Better Business Bureau warns of flood scams

Better Business Bureau warns of flood scams

MISSISSIPPI (WDAM) - This is a press release from the Mississippi Better Business Bureau:

The whole state of Mississippi has received more than its fair share of rain over the past several weeks. Rivers have reached 20 year highs in some areas and many residential and commercial areas have been left cleaning up the mess caused by the flooding.

With the beginning of spring, a gloomy weather forecast is predicted to continue, which means more rain and potential damage for homeowners and business owners. The aftermath could lead to a leaky roof, flooded basement or even mold. So, don't let the rain ruin your property.

BBB advises people dealing with water or flood damage to:

  • Contact your insurance company immediately. Inquire about policy coverage and specific filing requirements. This gets the ball rolling on the claim process.
  • Know the difference between flood insurance and homeowners insurance: Flood damage is typically caused by water that has been on the ground before damaging your home. Water damage occurs when water damages your home before the water comes in contact with the ground (broken pipes, a leaky roof, etc). These claims would be covered by homeowners insurance.
  • Do what you can to start mitigating further damage. If you’re worried about wet carpets or rugs, get fans and dehumidifiers going. Talk to an expert to see if the carpet/rugs or furnishings can be salvaged.
  • Document the damage to your property. Take pictures or video if possible.

Before hiring a contractor:

Check work history and references. Ask for a list of references to determine if the contractor is familiar with your type of project. A contractor should be able to give you names and phone numbers of at least three clients with projects like yours. Ask each client how long ago the project was and whether it was completed on time.

Find out if the contractor is insured. Ask for copies of insurance certificates and make sure they're current, or you could be held liable for any injuries and damages that occur during the project. The Federal Trade Commission recommends contractors have personal liability, worker's compensation and property damage coverage.

Prepare a written contract agreement with anyone you hire. It should specify the work to be done, techniques to be used, and the price breakdown for both labor and materials. An agreed-upon timeline is also a good idea.

Never pay in full for all repairs in advance, and do not pay cash.

Don't be pressured into making an immediate decision with a long-term impact. Although you may be anxious to get things back to normal, avoid letting your emotions get the better of you. Make temporary repairs if needed. Storm/flood damage victims should never feel pressured to make a hasty decision or choose an unknown company. Always do your research!

Check with BBB First. We have a myriad of reports on online companies, but even if the company you are considering isn't listed on our website, we can give you industry tips to help you make a decision. To find reputable companies or contractors, consumers can contact BBB at 601-398-1700 or here.