‘Do your research’: BBB warns people to protect themselves from storm clean up scams

Residents in Huber Heights are working on cleaning up debris after severe storms and tornadoes rolled through the area Sunday.

Explore>> Live Doppler 7 Radar | INTERACTIVE

While homeowners are busy dealing with the aftermath of the storms, the Better Business Bureau wanted to remind them to beware of scammers and shoddy tree trimmer companies.

“Stop. Don’t react because of the anxiety you have of the mess that’s in your yard or the damage that is done to your property,” said John North, president and CEO of the Dayton BBB. “You have to do your research.”

News Center 7 was in Huber Heights Monday looking at all the damage, uprooted trees and downed limbs.

We also saw plenty of tree trimming businesses going door to door looking for work.

Some of them are on the BBB’s radar as having poor business ratings, and at least one of those businesses were the focus of an I-Team investigation earlier this month.

Explore>> I-Team: How you can tell if a tree care company is legitimate

“There are a lot of less-than-legitimate tree service companies who are operating,” North said. “And they’re going door to door, telling you that they are in the neighborhood and that they can give you a great deal.”

The BBB said the amount of damage the Miami Valley saw after multiple tornadoes Sunday is keeping legitimate tree trimmers busy.

“They’re not going to have time to come out [to go] door to door telling you that they can remove something for a great deal,” North said.

In Huber Heights, it is required for people to have a license to go door to door looking for business, said Rob Schommer, city manager.

“We would encourage anyone who is approached by these solicitors for any type of services to first check to see if they have obtained their solicitor’s license from the city,” he said.

Residents can be placed on a do not solicit list, which solicitors have.

Anyone who decides to accept business from a tree service company should not pay the full amount until entire job is done.

Explore>> Storm debris: What Huber Heights residents should know

North advised not paying more than 25 percent in advance as well.

“Lots of contractors require a draw — a draw is perfectly legitimate,” he said. “If they need to come back for a bigger draw on a bigger job, make sure the job is progressing nicely.”

Unless you have severe damage that requires emergency work, the BBB said homeowners should call a tree trimmer and have them come out for an estimate.

And if possible, try to get three estimates.

“Here in the Miami Valley tree service companies are the third largest complaint volume we handle,” North said. “That’s not true nationally. It falls well below 20 percent nationally.”

Explore>> Storm damage reported in Huber Heights after severe weather

That discrepancy should put people in the Miami Valley on notice that they need to do their research when hiring a tree trimmer.

About the Authors