EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) - So-called "storm chasers," fly-by-night con artists that are looking to profit from the misery of storm victims, are already making their way up to Rhode Island, in the form of price gouging and unscrupulous contractors.
Chris Conner, a spokesman for Allstate Insurance, said Wednesday some of his company's clients have already gotten cheated.
While you may be desperate to repair your home from storm damage, beware of opportunists. One homeowner filed a complaint with her insurance company after she was ripped off.
"A woman was charged $6,500 for water removal, and it was a $1000 job," said Allstate's Chris Conner. "It's really just heartbreaking stuff for folks who are at a very emotional time, and just want their lives put back together."
When a state of emergency is declared, the anti-price gouging laws go into effect. This means any business caught overcharging people on items like water or building supplies will be fined.
Scams don't stop there. The Better Business Bureau is already seeing fake charity scams popping up, asking for people to give in order to help Irene storm victims. The BBB Wise Giving Alliance urges you to check trustworthy charities before making any donations.
Other rules to follow:
Get it in writing, said Conner: "Anyone who asks you to do a deal verbally?... I would love to say a gentleman's handshake would suffice, but that probably will not be the case."
Beware of unmarked trucks soliciting business. Oftentimes the trucks are rented because the business doesn't plan to stick around after they get your money.
Get 3 bids. Yes, time is of the essence, but you want the job done right once, instead of having to be redone.
Check out the contractor's history on the contractor's registration website. Click here for the Rhode Island contractor's registry. Click here for the Massachusetts contractor's registry.
The best thing you can to protect yourself is do your research, and never put common sense on the back burner.
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