Five Tips to Avoid Storm-Chaser Scams

posted on Tuesday, May 21, 2024 in SHAZAM Blog

According to the National Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center, more than 500 tornados have been spotted across the U.S. since April. Whether it’s a tornado, flood or other natural disaster, when severe weather strikes, it often brings out the best in people — neighbors checking on each other and communities rallying to rebuild together.  

Unfortunately, natural disasters can also bring out the worst in criminals looking to take advantage of homeowners dealing with the aftermath of a storm. These scammers may take unsuspecting victims’ money without completing the job or do subpar work, leaving homeowners with another mess to clean up. 

Below are five tips to help you avoid scammers looking to make a profit from those recovering from storm-related property damage. 

  1. Don’t pay upfront. Be wary of contractors or service providers demanding full payment upfront or asking for a large deposit before starting work. Never sign insurance checks or rights to your insurance claim over to a contractor. Additionally, keep in mind that FEMA doesn’t charge application fees. If someone wants money to help you qualify for FEMA funds, it’s a scam. 
  2. Verify your insurance coverage. Don’t rely on a contractor to tell you what your homeowners insurance policy does or doesn’t cover. Contact your insurance company or broker directly to understand the terms of your policy yourself. Your insurance company may have recommended contractors or specific requirements to follow. 
  3. Be skeptical. Unlicensed contractors and scammers often flock to communities impacted by significant weather events. While legitimate contractors may visit neighborhoods affected by storms, scammers also use this tactic. If someone shows up uninvited to your home offering their repair services, research the individual or company before allowing them to do any work on your home.  
  4. Check credentials. Scammers often claim they don’t need to be a licensed contractor to do repair work on homes, but it’s best to only hire contractors who are both licensed and insured. Check with your state or county government to confirm the contractor’s license is valid and ask for proof of insurance. Before engaging with any service provider, make sure to verify their credentials, ask for references and vet them on trusted online review sites, such as the Better Business Bureau.   
  5. Don’t rush. Anyone promising immediate cleanup or using high-pressure tactics after a storm is likely a scammer. Another red flag is contractors offering discounts for signing an electronic contract within an expedited timeframe.  

We hope these tips help protect you and your property from potential storm-chaser scams. Feel free to share this blog with others in your financial institution and community.  

Federal Trade Commission
Better Business Bureau

SHAZAM, Inc. and ITS, Inc. provide this blog for general informational purposes only. Our blog may be shared by a direct link wherein the content remains as originally presented and has not been altered. SHAZAM, Inc. and ITS, Inc. assume no responsibility for errors or omissions in the contents on the blog. By using this blog, reader agrees that the information published does not constitute nor is a substitute for legal advice which should only be sought from a qualified, licensed attorney. 


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