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BBB warns residents to watch for 'storm chasers'

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By The Staff

TO CHECK ON BUSINESSES

Got a question about a business? Call (270) 982-1288 or go to www.bbb.org

By JEFF D’ALESSIO

jdalessio@thenewsenterprise.com

HARDIN COUNTY — County residents have been through this drill before.

Severe weather hits the area and those with intentions of preying on those in a vulnerable state of mind arrive and then leave with a pocketful of money and a bunch of empty promises to help.

When last year’s tornadoes ripped through the area, Lincoln Trail Better Business Bureau branch manager Cathy Williamson said “storm chasers,” as they are often called, arrived to make the most of a vulnerable situation.

“Not all the folks that come here are here to help,’’ Williamson said. “People shouldn’t feel embarrassed to ask to see a license or insurance. We’re vulnerable and it’s a protective measure.

“If they are a legitimate businesses, they’ll have the insurance and license,’’ she added.

Given a storm like Hardin County just experienced, roofers, landscapers and tree cutters are likely to be out and about ready to help. While Williamson is not suggesting all businesses driving through a neighborhood offering assistance for a price may be bogus, it doesn’t hurt to make sure it is a proven business.

“If they ask for money up front to go buy supplies or to be paid up front, that’s a sure warning sign,’’ she said. “You always take a risk when you don’t check it out.

“People are desperate to have that tree out of their driveway or off their house, or to have a roof repaired,’’ she added, “but the best way to make sure about a business is to ask to see insurance and a business license. And never pay up front. That’s a big mistake to make because you may end up paying for work that never gets done.’’

Williamson said if someone is working on your property and is then injured or causes further damage, the homeowner is liable.

“Everyone should be alert and not take the first knock on the door for help,’’ she said.

Jeff D’Alessio can be reached at (270) 505-1757.