It wasn’t long after F2, F3 and F4 tornadoes touched down in the Nashville metropolitan area that the Tennessee Attorney General’s office issued a scam warning. It reminded tornado victims to beware of “opportunists who may appear to be willing to help but really just want to take advantage of the situation.”
The concerns of the Tennessee Attorney General’s office were warranted. Though most contractors are honest, affected areas in Germantown, East Nashville, Donelson, Mt. Juliet and Cookeville have already seen an influx of inexperienced and unqualified contractors—many from outside of Tennessee—who are promising to repair damage to homes and businesses, but have no intention of doing a quality job.
If you are a victim of this week’s tornadoes and severe storms, you want to make sure you hire reputable, local contractors to do the work. Historic homes need quality contractors who are in it for the long haul.
If you don’t have an existing relationship with businesses you know and trust, following are tips for hiring home repair contractors in the wake of a natural disaster.
Tips for Hiring Home Repair & Replacement Contractors
- Before hiring a contractor to remove debris or repair your home, have an insurance adjuster survey the damage.
- Verify that the contractors you plan to work with are properly licensed, which you can do with a simple online search at the Tennessee Department of Commerce & Insurance.
- Consider looking up the business at the Better Business Bureau of Middle Tennessee to see if the contractor has a history of complaints. Searching the web for customer reviews and perusing the contractor’s web site may be insightful as well.
Warning Signs of Disaster Fraud
Keep in mind the warning signs that you might be dealing with a home repair scammer. These include:
- Aggressive sales tactics, including one-day-only discounts
- Requirement of up-front payment
- Lack of a local, physical address
- A lack of references
- Refusal to provide a written estimate
- Failure to produce a business license and proof that the business is insured
You should also be wary of people who pose as government officials from agencies like the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or any other agency responsible for helping disaster victims. And be careful about sharing your identification, social security number, and other personal information that could be used to steal your identity.
The Federal Communications Commission also warns that “contractors and home improvement companies may call claiming to be partners with your insurance provider. Never give policy numbers, coverage details, or other personal information to companies with who you have not entered into a contract.” 1
If You Suspect a Scammer …
Many home repair scammers go door-to-door in affected neighborhoods. If you suspect a scammer, write down their license plate number and the make and model of their vehicle. Then report them to the Tennessee Attorney General’s office.
Or, if you have already been the victim of disaster fraud or suspect you are a victim, you can call the Disaster Fraud Hotline at 1-866-720-5721.
Need Help Recovering from the Nashville Tornado?
If your home was damaged or structurally compromised, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stratton Exteriors has been a part of the Nashville community since 2006 and we have a long history of doing quality work.
Homes damaged in the tornado are structurally compromised and may need to be torn down. The process needs to be a tear down of the home and we can have it rebuilt in 9 months.
In fact, we’ve already started working with affected homeowners and their insurance adjusters in East Nashville, doing repairs to houses on both Holly Street and 12th Street. We also specialize in repairing and restoring historic homes, of which there are many in the impacted neighborhoods. Give us a call at 615-253-3803.
1 FCC Consumer Guide: After Storms, Watch Out for Scams