How to avoid storm scams

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Another unfortunate part of dealing with storm damage is trying to avoid scam artists who try to take advantage of people in need.

Much of Frayser has streets still covered with trees and power lines, and the homes are in even worse shape.

"It's been madness, people have had their cars smashed, their houses just crushed," Bryant Cummings said.

"First look at this place on Saturday evening after it happened, it looked like a war zone," said Airton Santos with Bellevue in Frayser. He and other volunteers are clearing trees from the church parking lot and nearby properties.

Santos says they'll do the same for anyone in the community who needs help.

"We will do that just because we love Frayser and we love our community."

From clearing trees to just cleaning debris, you can clearly see there's still so much work to be done, especially in communities like Frayser. All these folks are volunteers, they're doing it for free, so you especially have to be careful if you're going to pay someone to do it.

"You've got a lot of people with pickup trucks and no equipment."

Clifford Williams says he's been in the landscaping business for 20 years. He's working on a regular client's home in Frayser, helping to clear debris.

"The people who are doing good are going to always be in business."

Watching out for fly-by-nighters or door-to-door storm chasers is critical to avoid scams. The Better Business Bureau's Nancy Crawford also says although homeowners are anxious to get back to normal, they shouldn't rush into a bad hire.

"Things like cash deals, high-pressure sales tactics, a deal that's only good right now at this moment."

How to file an insurance claim

Other BBB Tips:

  • Never pay the full amount of repairs in advance
  • Get everything in writing
  • Shop around for reliable contractors
  • Make temporary repairs
  • Check with your insurance company about coverage
  • All home improvement jobs above $3,000 require a license in Shelby County

"We know that many will come and try to take advantage, but we come for the love that we have in our heart," Santos said.

The kind of compassion you can't pay for.

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