Tyler Better Business Bureau
Being prepared is the most important advice pertaining to any natural disaster. While East Texans are not currently being threatened by a hurricane wreaking havoc in our area, we are in the middle of hurricane season, and strong winds, storm surges, heavy rains and inland flooding, which accompany hurricanes, can still cause considerable damage. The BBB advises consumers to be proactive, as preparing ahead of time may at the very least increase your peace of mind during hurricane season.
- Learn the location of emergency shelters.
- Have a “point-of-contact” friend or family member to contact in case of separation.
- Secure your home: store lightweight objects, anchor or bring outdoor objects inside, remove any damaged limbs from nearby trees.
- Store canned foods, bottled water, first-aid supplies, battery operated radios and flashlights in a convenient location.
It’s important to stock up on supplies and in other ways prepare for hurricane season, but it’s also important to prepare for the influx of dishonest people who will surely surface to take advantage of those needing assistance following the storms. Consumers should be on the lookout for scams related to home repairs, clean-up efforts, heating and cooling equipment and flood-damaged cars.
The BBB offers some tips following a hurricane or other severe weather:
- Insist that contractors provide written estimates on company letterhead.
- Obtain bids from several companies. Review the bids carefully and compare apples to apples. Remember the lowest bid is not always the best price.
- Don’t fall prey to high-pressure tactics. Remember, a legitimate company will be here when you are ready to have the work performed.
- Ask for local references, and call them.
- Never pay the full amount upfront, never pay in cash and never sign a contract without first reading and understanding it.
- Make sure the business has a physical location in the area.
- Verify that any contractor you are considering doing business with is properly licensed, bonded and insured.
- Check out the company’s BBB Business Review and complaint history.
Remember, if you feel intimidated or frightened by the presence of any salesperson or contractor who comes to your home, call the police at 911.
Emergency numbers to keep on hand:
- Evacuation information: 211.
- FEMA: 1-800-621-3362.
- Food stamps: 1-800-221-5689.
- Red Cross: 1-800-733-2767.
- Attorney General: 1-800-252-8011.
- Roadside assistance: 1-800-525-5555.
- TxDOT statewide road closure information: 1-800-452-9292.
- Relay service: 711 (hearing impaired and visual disabilities).
To check the reliability of the company and find trustworthy businesses, visit BBB. To report a fraud or scam, call the BBB Hotline at 903-581-8373. BBB’s mission is to be the leader in advancing marketplace trust.