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BBB warns Airdrie residents to be wary after storm

By: Sara Wilson

  |  Posted: Monday, Aug 18, 2014 12:58 pm

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After major hail storms that damaged local businesses, cars and homes on Aug. 6 and 7, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) is asking homeowners to be vigilant in the coming days and weeks when it comes time to hire disaster recovery and repair contractors.

“Unfortunately, scammers tend to come out of the woodwork after a weather disaster to capitalize on the fact that people are vulnerable,” said Sandra Crozier-McKee, president and CEO of BBB Serving Southern Alberta and East Kootenay.

“It’s crucial that while residents are anxious to repair the damage to their homes and vehicles, they take the time to ensure they’re not dealing with a storm chaser.”

“Storm chasers” as the BBB refers to them as, are generally out-of-town contractors who show up after a disaster, walk door-to-door offering great deals on recovery efforts, take deposits from homeowners and then leave town - often without completing any work.

“We’re asking people to be aware that they could be approached by fraudulent contractors,” said Leah Brownridge, marketing and communications coordinator with the BBB southern Alberta.

Brownridge suggests being diligent and checking for qualifications, credentials and proper licensing from the contractors they choose to hire.

“Usually people are vulnerable or aren’t thinking clearly and it could be tempting to take that so-called offer, as soon as they hand over the money, the contractor takes off without doing any work,” Brownridge explained.

BBB offers tips to consider if your home, business or vehicle has suffered hail damage:

• Do your research. Check with the BBB before you hire a contractor and avoid businesses who come to your door with a “good deal.”

• Check out their online BBB Business Reviews to see ratings and business history records.

• Get it in writing. Request bids from three different contractors that include costs, timelines and warranty information.

• Check licensing and credentials. Check with the City of Airdrie to determine if inspections, permits or licensing is required. Contact Service Alberta for information on required provincial licensing. If the contractor can’t prove his qualifications, walk away.

• Beware of upfront fees. If a contractor or repairman request full payment upfront, it could be a red flag.

• Ask about insurance. Although contractors are not required by law to carry liability insurance, it could mean you could be liable for damage to you or your neighbour’s property.

• Also find out what your homeowner’s insurance will and won’t cover.

For more information, contact the BBB at 403-531-8784 or www.bbb.ca


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