After a storm hits, watch out for scams

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- We are in the middle of severe weather season. After a big storm passes through, there's another danger to watch out for, and this one is after your wallet. Scam artists follow storms across the country, and while they promise quality work, it's more likely they'll take your money and run.

Homeowners should be on the lookout for "storm chasers" or out-of-town contractors that solicit your business. Lisa Schiller with the Wisconsin Better Business Bureau (BBB) says they are already investigating claims of storm chasers this summer.

"We've already had reports over the weekend of door-to-door contractors going through neighborhoods in Oconomowoc," she said.

The key to stopping a storm repair scam is for a homeowner to take their time. While it's understandable to want to fix a damaged house immediately, it is also important to do research to protect what is often a family's biggest lifetime investment.

"You don't want to make a split decision on your doorstep, take your time" Schiller said, "Ask for references, check those references. Any legitimate contractor will be happy to give you all of their contact information and give you time to not only check their contact information but check their references as well."

If your home suffers storm damage, here are a few things to look out for from a contractor:

--Blanketing the neighborhood with fliers and door-knocks

--Promises like a free deductible are usually a scam

--Free inspections. Professional roofers sometimes charge for this service, but not all do. Storm chasers have actually been caught damaging roofs in order to provide homeowners “evidence” that hail or wind damaged their house.

--People who say your insurance company sent them. Your insurance company will tell you before they send someone to your house. If you’re unsure whether they’re telling the truth, call your insurance agent to find out for sure.

--Payment up front. It’s reasonable for roofers to request a small, initial deposit. However, the bulk of the payment should come after the roofer has finished the job.

--Claims that FEMA endorses them. FEMA does not endorse contractors.

--High pressure sales tactics.

A good way to shut down a high-pressure salesperson is to ask to see their license. To work as a handyman in Wisconsin, individuals need a dwelling contractor license, and those are searchable online.

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