How to avoid post-storm scams - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

How to avoid post-storm scams

JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

Thousands of homeowners searching are for help. Some need repairs. Others will have to completely rebuild.

You may think you could only get scammed if you live in one of the tornado damaged communities. Think again!

Another set of scams are out there waiting in the form of fraudulent charities.Make sure you know details on who and what is behind the organization you choose for donations.

"We've had people for roofing and a lot of tree cutting," said Brandon resident Patsy Brooks. "But once you let them know there's someone already in place there, even the tree cutters the same thing, then they go on."

Patsy Brooks is one of the lucky ones. She has trusted contacts that linked her up with contractors and tree services right after the storm cleared. She's thankful she doesn't have to worry with the possibility of scam artists.

"I will not allow my emotions to rule the situation," Brooks explained. "You have to remove your emotions from it and deal with the facts. Because there's a lot of personal things here and it's overwhelming. And people just go oh ok, well I've got to do that. Oh ok."

That "just get it done" attitude is what can get people in trouble. The Mississippi Board of Contractors says they see people coming in from all across the country and preying on victims in these disaster zones.

"Don't rush into repairs," said Board of Contractors' Executive Director Stephanie Lee. "Don't give cash up front. Don't let the payments get ahead of the work. Ask for those references and verify those references. And then we encourage them to have licensed contractors."

You can check with the state Board of Contractors or the Better Business Bureau to verify the contractor is licensed.

"A lot of times they'll get their money then they're gone," said Lee. "And they don't ever finish the work and you can't get them back to complete the job."

Patsy Brooks said, "It concerns me for anyone who might be taken advantage of because there are people who just do that. And it's hard to believe in these circumstances that they would."

The Board of Contractors has enforcement officers out patrolling in the damaged areas. They are working with consumers and helping to identify any unlicensed contractors.

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