How to avoid scammers during cleanup for severe weather

TWIN LAKES, Mich. - Cleanup is underway following Tuesday's severe weather.

For the folks dealing with damaged roofs and fallen trees and you may want to be careful when hiring professionals to fix it.

Officials are issuing warnings about scammers or quote "storm chasers” who are willing to take your money but not the work.

This is some of the destroyed homes and down trees left behind in the aftermath of a tornado that tore through the Twin Lakes area, Tuesday.

Kirt Steele and his family had to shelter in their neighbor's basement.

Returning home, they found their yard filled with branches, limbs, and torn down trees. Instead of calling a company for help, Steele's friends and family rallied together to help clean up.

Katie Grevious, with the Better Business Bureau warns that scammers target areas with storm damage, going door-to-door to families like Steele's offering services, often at discounted prices.

There are things you can do to protect yourself. Research the company you’re considering hiring. Call your insurance company and see if they have any recommendations of who to work with. Ask for a license if their work requires it and consider seeking a second opinion.

"Scammers will often offer very low bids and usually come with some sort of strings attached like if you pay in cash right now or you let me do the work today, so you kind of want to know what you're paying for," said Grevious.

Noah Borzsei, owner Ark Tree Services, was out clearing some trees in the Twin Lakes area.

Borzsei says even some simple questions can help you vet contractors.

“Ask your company to provide proof of insurance and proof of workmen's comp that way you have all your i's dotted, and t's crossed and you're safe to go," said Borzsei.

More things the Better Business Bureau recommends looking out for is making sure any promises are in writing, specifically in a contract with an agreed upon price, and never pay the full amount up front.

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