Police, BBB warn of scammers looking to take advantage of storm - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Police, BBB warn of scammers looking to take advantage of storm damage

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This home in Perrysburg Township sustained heavy damage. (Source: Joe Nollendorfs) This home in Perrysburg Township sustained heavy damage. (Source: Joe Nollendorfs)
TOLEDO, OH (Toledo News Now) -

Local law enforcement and the Better Business Bureau are warning victim's of Sunday's storms that scammers often try to take advantage of the destruction left behind by severe weather.

Lake Township Police Chief Mark Hummer says he received between 30 and 50 reports of scams after a tornado struck the township in 2010. Hummer says common sense can help victims avoid being ripped off.

Hummer says there are generally two types of scams after a storm. First, scammers will ask for donations or impersonate a legitimate charity. Second, contractors from out of state will attempt to rip off those with damage to their home or business.

"It goes back to that same lesson, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is," said Hummer.

Hummer also encourages area residents to report anyone they think may not be legitimate to police.

"If they really get persistent, call your local police department, cause we will come out and we will help you. You know we will check them out, we will make sure they are legitimate, and if they are not we are going to run them out here, because we don't want our people to be victimized twice," said Hummer.

"Well when they call they need to tell me the time, the date that it happened, and the extent of the damage. If for instance on a roof, if it is leaking then they need to get somebody out there right away to try to alleviate any more damage. And until the adjustor comes out to assess the damage," added Cathy Jenkins of Great Lakes Insurance Partners.

Dick Eppstein, President of the Greater Toledo Better Business Bureau, says it is best to hire a local contractor to do the work.

"Don't pay in advance. Our experience has been that unfortunately that when you pay in a guy in advance, there is always a chance he may just disappear, and it can be very difficult to get him back to get the work fixed," says Eppstein.

Eppstein also offers the following tips:

• Check your homeowner's insurance policy before making repairs.

• Don't let door-to-door salespeople pressure you to make a quick decision.

• Get several bids. Be sure they have a good BBB grade!

• Insist on seeing proof the contractor has liability insurance and workers compensation.

• Avoid disappointment by insisting on a written contract.

When it comes to donations, Eppstein says it's best to go with someone you know.

"Write a check to an established charity like Red Cross, and just mail it to them or drop it off rather than giving to some person that you don't know," said Eppstein.

Click here for tips on filing an insurance claim from the Ohio Department of Insurance.

Click here for more from the Toledo Better Business Bureau.

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