April 28, 2011
Jefferson City, Mo. – Attorney General Chris Koster today cautioned Missourians to be on the alert for “storm chasers” – companies that follow severe weather and try to contract with homeowners who have suffered storm or tornado damage to provide roofing and other repair services. Company representatives will typically go door to door in storm-damaged areas posing as recovery experts or contractors specializing in home repairs.
Koster warned consumers that the storm chasers will ask them to sign a contract allowing their company to negotiate with the homeowner’s insurance company. He said they generally use high-pressure sales tactics; ask for cash up front; may have out-of-state drivers licenses or plates; be unable to produce local references; and have no proof of workers’ compensation insurance. Often, they perform shoddy work, then leave the area, leaving the homeowner with little or no recourse.
“Storm chasers strike at a time when people are at their most vulnerable, trying to capitalize on the misfortunes of storm victims,” Koster said. “The elderly and disabled are particularly at risk because they may be unable to assess the damage to their homes themselves.”
Koster offered the following tips for consumers to avoid being scammed by the storm chasers:
To report storm chasers to the Attorney General’s Office, submit a complaint form online or call the Consumer Protection Hotline at 1-800-392-8222.