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Protecting yourself from 'storm chaser' scammers

Posted at 8:47 PM, Mar 22, 2022

WACO, Texas — As Central Texans start to recover from Monday's storm, the Better Business Bureau warns a new kind of storm is brewing.

Whenever there is a weather disaster, scammers known as "storm chasers" try to take advantage of people in vulnerable situations.

"We get the knock on the door, we get the contractor saying 'we're working with neighbors in the area already, we'd like to give a free estimate'," said Jason Meza, senior regional manager with the BBB. "Once you give the free inspection or allow them to get on the roof, they could create more damage and it could be a situation where they are trying to earn their work."

Meza offered a few simple steps to protect yourself against these scammers:

- Ask people you know for recommendations of contractors they've used in the past
- Never pay for the work in full and upfront
- Always read the contract thoroughly, look for start and end dates for the work
- Take notice of the company's phone number, look for a local area code
- Stay away from contractors "in the area" already

"These are actors who may be imitating a real company," Meza warned. "They might put on a shirt and pose as a company that has great reviews, then the real company ends up in the shadows saying 'it wasn't us."

To help protect you against scams, the BBB has a list of reputable companies on its website. They encourage people to report both good and bad experiences so they can keep that list updated.

"For the bad, for the complaints, for the less than trustworthy, less than ethical businesses we want to know about those. If you have a great experience, we want to know about those as well," he said.