Storm Clean-Up: Beware of “Storm Damage Scammers”
DEPARTMENT OF POLICE
MEDIA SERVICES DIVISION
2350 RESEARCH BOULEVARD ROCKVILLE, MARYLAND 20850-3294
|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE|
July 2, 2012
| FOR MORE INFORMATION: |
Media Services Division, 240-773-5030
As clean-up begins after the storm, MCP wants to warn residents of storm damage scammers. While there are reputable companies that will provide service to you, there are scammers that take advantage of residents who need to make repairs quickly after a storm. A common scenario is: a scammer knocks on a homeowner’s door, states that he/she is a tree service company or other home repair service, and says that he/she happens to be in the neighborhood or has left over supplies from another job. These suspects use tactics to receive more money – they collect deposits and never perform the work, return to the home to collect excessive payments, or claim they lost a check and then cash both checks. These suspects might advise that additional, unnecessary services need to be performed in order to receive more money.
Here are some helpful hints to avoid storm damage scammers:
Check and see if a license is required for the work!
- Be cautious of door-to-door solicitors and don’t be pressured into making a quick decision. Take time to get 3-4 estimates.
- Ask your insurance company for a referral to a reputable tree company
- Insist on a written contract with details on what work will be done, materials to be used, etc.
- Ask for references from the company and follow through on checking them
- Check with the local Better Business Bureau and their lists of accredited businesses and reviews
Finally, be cautious of a company that . . .
- Home Improvement Companies and Tree Care Companies must be licensed in Maryland to perform work in the state. If you do business with a licensed contractor, you are often protected against losses due to poor workmanship and other violations of the law. You are often not protected if you do business with an unlicensed contractor.
- Verify a business’ license status by calling the Montgomery County Office of Consumer Protection (OCP) at 240-777-3636. OCP has a record of Merchant Complaints online.
- Has no printed materials – no written contracts, no business cards, no bid forms, etc.
- Offers an unusually low price at first
- Only accepts cash payments, and/or asks for payment up front
- Pressures you and says you need to make an immediate decision
- Offers you a discount to find other customers
See something suspicious in your neighborhood? Call MCP!