Homeowners urged to beware of dishonest contractors after recent severe weather, tornadoes

Samantha Chatman Image
Thursday, July 13, 2023
Beware of dishonest contractors after recent severe weather, tornadoes
The Better Business Bureau is warning people to beware of "storm chasers" after tornadoes in Illinois caused significant storm damage.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- There's already a warning out about untrustworthy contractors trying to take advantage of people who sustained damage from recent tornadoes in the Chicago area.

These dishonest contractors are often referred to as "storm chasers," or people who come into areas that have been impacted by severe weather looking for vulnerable homeowners to prey on.

The Chicago area certainly saw a great deal of destruction in Wednesday's storm, from blown-off roofs to trees toppling over yards and homes. The clean-up effort will be significant for many people.

Typically, in these cases, homeowners are distraught. So, if someone comes to your door promising to help, it's important to remain vigilant about your property and money.

Here are some things you should do:

  • First, do your research. Take your time in researching a contractor and look them up online.
  • Get a few quotes before deciding who you're going to work with.
  • Make sure the company you sign with is licensed and insured.
  • Get a written contract with all of the terms spelled out in writing.
  • Try to pay with a credit card if you can. There's a lot more protection with credit cards.
  • Contact your insurance company. Ask about your policy coverage and specific filing requirements. Save all receipts, including those for food, temporary lodging, or other expenses that may be covered under your policy. Your insurance company may also have recommended contractors.
  • Be especially careful of door-to-door contractors. Many municipalities require a solicitation permit if salespeople go door-to-door. Ask for identification. Check their vehicle for a business name, phone number, and license plates for your state or province.
  • Be wary regarding places you can't see. While most contractors abide by the law, be careful allowing someone you do not know to inspect your roof and other areas of your house. An unethical contractor may actually create damage to get work. The same goes for attics, crawl spaces, ducts, and other places you cannot easily access or see for yourself.

Here are some things you should not do:

  • Don't pay everything up front. Deposits are usually broken up into quarters or thirds, but if they want all of the money up front, that could be a red flag.
  • Don't pay in cash. If anything goes wrong, there's very little recourse for you.
  • Don't sign over insurance checks to contractors. The Better Business Bureau advises that you pay the contractor directly.
  • And lastly, don't let anyone pressure you. If, at any point, you feel like you're being urged to sign or hand over money fast, that may be a sign you need to work with someone else.

Click here for more information from the BBB.