How To Avoid Scammers During Storm Cleanup

ROGERS, Ark. (KFSM) — Those still cleaning up from the latest storms say they are starting to see a lot of repair companies and contractors descend onto their neighborhoods.

Local police, however, are warning that some people may see this as an opportunity to scam innocent victims out of thousands of dollars.

The Bayes family, who lives in a neighborhood just off of New Hope Road in Rogers now has to get a tree removed from their property. They say someone already tried to take advantage of them but luckily Michelle Bayes says she knew better.

"If the tree had not fallen into the street and fell on the house it was directly in the path to where me and the children were hiding and we would have been gone," Bayes said.

Bayes said she woke up to find damage outside of her front door after an EF1 tornado ripped through her neighborhood.

She says a tree service company contacted her immediately when she wasn't even home.

"My father in law was home. He called me because someone was scouting. They wanted to give us an estimate on tree removal. When he came back to me with an estimate he quoted me $5,200 or $5,400, I was kind of taken back," Bayes said.

She says not long before the storm she had some trees removed from her property, so she was familiar with the price and the work. She called another company whose estimate was much lower, $2,500 to be exact.

"I would tell people to get more than one estimate even if it takes days to get that estimate," Bayes said.

Greg Crow, an Administrator of the Arkansas Contractors Licensing Board, says the are busy right now but are keeping track of and issuing licenses. They know if a company is good or has a history of problems and they will share information with residents.

"Most of the construction industry is full of good, hard-working people. Unfortunately, you have a small group that gives the good guys a black eye," Crow said.

Those curious about contractors can call the licensing board at 501-372-4661 or look one up on the licensing board website. The board tracks in and out of state companies.

Until then, Crow offered a few red flags to look for.

"If it's a today only deal, you need to walk away from the deal. Personally, I wouldn't pay a penny until the job is done. It's in the contractor's best interest and homeowners to make sure that the contract is in writing," Crow said.

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