Within the last three months concerns about storm repair scams have significantly increased in Mississippi.
Officials with the Better Business Bureau are now offering tips on how storm victims can keep from falling victim to a scam.
On March 18th of this year, thousands of cars in the Jackson Metro area were damaged by what was softball size hail in some spots. In all, more than 54 state vehicles and the roofs of three state buildings were damaged by the hail.
Then, it was less than a month later when a deadly tornado ripped through Kemper and Noxubee counties in Mississippi and into Pickens County in Alabama on a 68 mile trek leaving behind thousands of dollars worth of damage.
John O'Hara is the CEO for the Better Business Bureau which serves Mississippi. He says these natural disasters, along with the devastating tornadoes that destroyed more than 350 houses and severely damaged an additional 500 plus in seven South Mississippi counties in February, have significantly increased concerns about storm repair scams.
"We have had so many roofers and out of state contractors from as far as Missouri, Kansas, Texas, Georgia and North Carolina to come in and set up shop," says O'Hara. "They may have a good rating in the state that they're at, but then what happens is that we ask people what happens if you have a problem within the next six to ten years and they've given you a ten year warranty, where are they going to be? Are they going to be here in the state of Mississippi or are they going to be gone?"
O'Hara says there are many ways that storm victims can be scammed out of money. That's why he's advising residents to always check with the Better Business Bureau before getting any work done, and especially before giving the contractor any money.
"If you have businesses out there that you look up and they have an 'F' rating, that's kind of 'Buyer Beware!"
The phone number for the Better Business Bureau in Mississippi 1-800-987-8280.
Here are some more tips from the agency:
(1.) When contracting work, get everything in writing.
(2.) Read all paperwork carefully!
(3.) Ask for references from the contractor's last three customers.
(4.) Verify all licenses and insurance coverage.
(5.) Don't be pushed into making a quick decision.