Officials warn of ‘storm scammers’

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By Navisha Collins

Local officials recommend using caution when dealing with contractors in the wake of the May 19 hailstorm.

Hodgenville and surrounding areas are being flooded with numerous roofing companies trying to get the jump on any needed repairs.

“Since the hailstorm, we’ve had a lot of roofing companies in our area surveying the damage done,” said Hodgenville City Police Chief Steve Johnson. “Citizens should ask for a city business license from contractors.”

If you are concerned or have a persistent contractor who will not leave when asked, you should call law enforcement, said Johnson. Contractors have been advised by city officials that if someone denies services they are to leave the property.

City Clerk Madonna Hornback advises residents to check with the Better Business Bureau to make sure contractors are legitimate, get at least two estimates and check with insurance companies first to make sure that repairs will be covered.

“Most insurance companies will send an adjustor to check the damages first,” said Chief Johnson.

Some of the contractors appear to be using a web program, Google Maps, to target people because of the aerial view provided by satellite photos of rooftops. This is raising concerns for citizens. Users are able to enter an address into the search bar and pull up the rooftop photograph of their choice. This is a free service provided by http://www.google.com/.

If you have doubts about selecting a contractor, ask for referrals from neighbors and friends.

You can also ask contractors for their business card and city license number. Two roofing companies that are in the area now are Better Business Bureau certified. If you need additional assistance or have any concerns, you may call either City Hall at 358-3832 or the BBB at 270-982-1288.

Additionally, in light of the recent devastation in Moore, Oklahoma, the BBB is warning everyone to be aware of scammers.

“Scam artists come out of the woodwork after a disaster strikes,” said Reanna Smith-Hamblin, spokesperson for the BBB. “And they are willing to do anything to take your money.”

When disaster strikes, people want to help. This causes scam artists to spring on good-natured people.

Protect yourself against scammers by following the steps provided by the BBB:

  • Get the charity’s exact name. With so many charities in existence, mistaken identity is a common problem.
  • Beware of organizations with copycat names similar to reputable charities.
  • Be wary of heart-wrenching appeals.
  • Verify the legitimacy of a non-profit organization by utilizing resources that may assist in confirming a non-profit’s existence and status. The public can go to www.bbb.org/charity to research charities and relief organizations and verify that they are accredited by the BBB and meet the 20 Standards for Charity Accountability.
  • Be cautious when giving online. Beware of unsolicited email messages that claim to link to a relief organization. Go directly to a legitimate charity’s website.
  • Be cautious of emails that claim to show pictures of disaster areas in attached files or on social media. The files could contain viruses.
  • Resist pressure. Do not be pressured into making contributions on the spot. A reputable charity will take your donation today, tomorrow, or next month.
  • Do not provide your personal or financial information to anyone who solicits contributions. This could compromise your identity.
  • Avoid cash donations, if you can. Pay by credit card or write a check directly to the charity. Do not make checks payable to individuals.
  • Never wire money for a donation. Legitimate charities do not normally solicit donations via money transfer services.
  • Be wary of claims that 100 percent of donations will assist relief victims. Despite what an organization might claim, charities have fundraising and administrative costs. Even a credit card donation will involve, at a minimum, a processing fee.