DES MOINES, Iowa — Why are the victims of natural disasters easy prey for shady contractors and consumer scams?
“They’re desperate,” said Chris Coleman, President & CEO of the Better Business Bureau in Des Moines. “People are desperate in this situation. I`ve been out in our neighborhoods and I know that people just want to get their life back, so they’re in a hurry. They are looking for anybody that can convince them that they`re there to help, and so the victims of the flood and the water are the first victims of the scam artist too, and that’s really sad.”
There’s a lot of work to be done and not enough workers to do it all.
“Framers, drywallers, carpet people, electricians, and heating and cooling specialists…there’s more work for them to do than the number of people we have in Des Moines,” said Coleman. “And that’s why we’re gonna get some storm chasers here in town, trying to pick up an easy buck.”
An easy buck at your expense and getting that money back can be a challenge, which is why experts say don’t agree to anything until you’ve done your research.
“Start with friends and family and people that have a personal firsthand experience with them,” said Coleman.
“If you don’t know who the contractor is and you don’t have good referrals, you might protect yourself by doing things like taking pictures of the license plate, getting their driver`s license number and things like that,” said Iowa Assistant Attorney General Benjamin Bellus, Consumer Protection Division. “Taking pictures of the vehicle along the way, that will help authorities track them down if something goes wrong. It also might discourage some people in the first place from even sticking around to try and take your money from you.”
For more information on how you can protect yourself, click here.