Following this weekend’s deadly tornado in Columbus and related damage across the state, Attorney General Jim Hood is reminding Mississippians who suffered property damage as a result of the storms to be on alert for tree cutters and home repair contractors who may be scammers.
“While there are plenty of honest business people across the state, there are some who will take advantage of people who have already lost so much in a storm,” said Hood. “We’ve seen this happen before, where people from outside of Mississippi will come in after a storm to scam people. Our investigators are in these affected areas providing standard form home repair contracts to make sure that people do not fall victim to these acts and know what questions to ask when repairing property.”
Below are tips from AG Hood on ways to help protect Mississippians from fraudulent tree cutters, roofers, contractors, and others.
- Verify that the company you are considering is insured. Ask for a copy of the certificate of insurance.
- Do your research. Contact our Consumer Protection Division or the Better Business Bureau of Mississippi to see if they have complaints against the company. Ask for several local references and make sure to follow through on checking them. Look online at reviews of their work.
- Take time to shop around and be suspicious of any price that seems unusually high or low. Get written estimates from more than one company, and check with friends or family who’ve had tree work done recently to see what they paid and who they recommend.
- Ask how the job will be done and if they will perform the work according to industry standards. For tree removal services, pay attention to the “lingo” such as “topping a tree,” “lion’s-tailing” or “using climbing spikes to prune a tree.” Sometimes these techniques will be presented as a way to save money by removing more of the tree at one time; however, these practices can injure or kill trees, and trees pruned by one of these methods usually requires more expensive restoration work in the future in order to save it.
- Ask about post-job cleanup and debris removal. Before the job is started, ask if the company will remove the tree, damaged roof, or other items from your property as well. If you don’t, it could lead to you having to also pay for debris removal.