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Pros give tips to avoid bad contractors after storms

Pros are warning against so-called "storm chasers" who swoop in following storms.

SAN ANTONIO — Hail and strong storms tore through local neighborhoods Wednesday night, damaging cars and homes. Experts, however, said with the storms comes the risk of bad contractors.

"This is almost like clockwork," said BBB Regional Director Jason Meza. "Every spring and summer, we see storms roll in. So we know they're coming."

Meza is referring to the so-called "storm chasers." Contractors who come in the aftermath of a storm seeking to repair a homeowner's house, but with a catch.

"You need to sign the contract today. W have extra materials that are left over from a job down the street. We are offering at a discount, but we need immediate deposits. We need a contract signed. And that's the catch," Meza said. "And that's what we're telling consumers to just be very savvy before you enter into a contract. It could be a catch, or it could be a roofer that runs off with your money and never shows up."

Eric Garza of Bluebonnet Roofing said in his years in the business he's seen numerous people fall victim to storm chasers.

"As a business owner, I can't understand how someone could do that to somebody because a lot of times it's the elderly," he said. "They could become real trustworthy and they just write someone a check. And those people don't ever show back up. I've seen it more times than I care to throughout the year."

Garza said the storm chasers often have no ties to the community and skip town once the job is completed -- if they complete the job -- leaving homeowners with no way to follow up on warranties offered on their services.

Jim Syring, president of USAA's Property and Casualty Group said hours after the storms rolled through Bexar County and surrounding areas, the agency began receiving reports of fraudulent action.

“During these times, fraudulent activity peaks," Syring said. "We actually had some feedback from last night just as the storms passed that that had already started to begin."

Contractors will have their hands full following the storm. USAA on Thursday reported more than 4,500 claims for damage had been submitted following the storm.

Syring, Meza and Garza all agreed the best place to start following a storm is with your insurance company.

The BBB offered the following advice when approached by contractors:

  • Contact your insurance first
  • Do your research
  • Resist high pressure sales
  • Don’t sign over insurance checks to contractors
  • Review damages not easily seen

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