Don't make a bad situation worse.  The storms we've experienced over the last couple of weeks have left a lot of damage in their wake.  Rural residents of the Twin Ports - and even those downtown - suffered significant amounts downed trees, ripped-off siding and roof shingles, damaged out-buildings, and more.  Unfortunately, this is the recipe that many scammers look for when deciding who or where to target next.

Duluth, MN trended on Facebook for the amount of storm stories that were being posted.  If you're seeing them - so are those with less-than-positive intentions.  Unfortunately, our area will be ripe for these criminals who will pose as traveling contractors - suggesting that they can assist with storm clean-up or repairs.  The scam might be that they will take your money and leave you high and dry.

First off - let's establish that there are good, legitimate contractors out there who do quality work and stand behind their product.  The unfortunate result of the scammers is that they give a bad name to those business-people who are doing the right thing.

So how do you go about knowing who to trust?

The Better Business Bureau has good suggestions that you should follow when dealing with any business - whether it's in the aftermath of a storm or not.

  • Be wary of any contractor that approaches you without your prompting.  If a salesperson comes around door to door suggesting that your property needs fixing or cleanup or that they "have extra materials left over from another project" - you need to do some research on your own to assure their credentials.
  • Ask for credentials.  Contractors who operate their business in an "above-board" fashion will be licensed, bonded, insured and have all the appropriate collateral materials.
  • Get a written estimate - and reach out to other companies to explore other proposals and pricing.
  • Check with your insurance company about the scope of your coverage and any important steps you need to take before signing on with a contractor.

It's important to remember that not all contractors are out to scam you;  in fact - the vast majority of owners out there are operating their businesses legitimately.



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