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Storm damage creates opportunity for scammers

WHITELAND, Ind. (WISH) — The recent tornadoes didn’t just bring destruction to some communities — they also likely brought scam artists out of the woodwork looking to take advantage.

The Better Business Bureau told I-Team 8 they get reports of scams every time there is a storm like this.

Pearl Street in Whiteland is one of the hardest hit areas from the recent tornadoes that tore through the state.

The BBB said that have not gotten any reports of scams happening here, yet, but they told I-Team 8 people who live there should be prepared for someone trying to come and scam them as they recover from this storm.

“It’s always best to just be on guard,” BBB spokesperson Jennifer Adamany said.

The BBB said companies contacting you, instead of the other way around, is one warning sign.

“Offering services at really great rates, perhaps a discount. If they’re trying to pressure you into accepting their offer without giving you time to look into it further,” Adamany said.

Adamany also says that if these companies are not willing to accept payments other than cash, that’s a red flag.

I-Team 8 only saw one homeowner picking through the wreckage of their damaged home on Wednesday. They didn’t want to speak on camera, but they told us their home is a total loss.

They were not concerned about being scammed, because they are already working with their insurance company, and a contractor who has previously renovated their home, to fix their home.

The BBB told I-team 8 that’s exactly what other storm victims should do, too.

“Contact your insurance company. A lot of times they can cover the damages that are happening, or they can guide you through the process. Even recommend vendors that they have contracts with,” said Adamany.

If you don’t do that, the BBB says it opens you up to scammers.

On top of scammers taking your money and not doing the work, the BBB said another thing storm victims need to be aware of is contractors not qualified to do the work.

“There are cases where they do the work, but it’s shoddy work where it actually creates more problems than you realize. Those cases tend to be more fraudulent as opposed to scams. Scams we consider to be you then can’t later identify who they are,” Adamany said.

The BBB and the Indiana Attorney General’s Office told I-Team 8 that all storm victims should ask to see a business license, ask if the company has contractors insurance, and do research to see if they have any other complaints filed against them through the BBB or the AG’s office.