EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. — The Illinois Attorney General is joining the Better Business Bureau to warn about scammers looking to take advantage of people with storm damage.
As Ronna Blattner surveyed the damage at her family farm, she can’t help but get overwhelmed with emotion.
“You go into a state of shock at first,” Blattner said.
There’s debris scattered seemingly everywhere you look.
“It’s just a huge job,” said Blattner.
With another line of storms in the forecast, she knows the old carport needs to come down.
“It’s probably a little bit on the dangerous side,” said Blattner. “I think it’s stable, but I’d like to get that off the house. They’re talking about 50-mph winds this afternoon. I’m not looking forward to that.”
Blattner said at least two dozen contractors have stopped by offering estimates.
According to Sarah Wetzel of the Better Business Bureau, these types of door-to-door sales pitches can be a sign of a scam.
“We have these fly-by-night contractors that come to your door so it’s really tempting to just take advantage of the person who’s right in front of you to do the work,” Wetzel said. “What we see a lot is that consumers put down these deposits, and in the end we get little to no work done.”
“I’m of the age that I’m becoming more and more vulnerable towards that, you know, because they are really clever with some of their pitches,” said Blattner.
Wetzel said scammers often want to work without a contract and ask for payments upfront, but there’s an easy way to protect yourself.
“You definitely want to contact your insurance company first,” said Wetzel. “They may have some stipulations about the contractor that you use.
Wetzel said it’s also important to use a credit card since you can dispute fraudulent charges that often go along with scammers posing as disaster charities.
“Take the power into your hands,” said Wetzel. “Make sure you know where your hard-earned dollars are going. Make sure that you know they’re going to a reputable charity or that they’re going to a family in need. If possible, just give to that family directly.”
The most important thing you can do to keep yourself safe from scams is research.