Recent ice storms bring unwanted home repair scammers

  • Regina Morrison Newman is the Shelby County Trustee.

Given the damage left behind by the ice storm that hit Shelby County earlier this month, this topic is especially timely.

So many people are dealing with damage to their homes from the ice storm – trees falling on their homes, frozen pipes bursting and causing water damage, even fires caused by power surges as MLGW got power turned back on. Depending on the amount and type of damage, people are desperate to get it repaired. Enter the unscrupulous “home repair” folks.

Many times we reach out to friends and family for recommendations. Most of the reputable folks are booked for weeks if not months, particularly after a weather event like we had. Unfortunately, that leaves the fly-by-night home repair scammers driving neighborhoods looking for homes with damage and offering their services. They promise to be available immediately and to do the work for less money than the ones you would have to wait weeks for. Don’t be fooled.

A fallen tree is cleared from Central Avenue on Thursday, Feb. 3, 2022, in Memphis. The tree fell due to ice and blocked the road completely. Memphis could see up to a half-inch of ice today as a result of Winter Storm Landon.

Some will ask for money up front for “supplies” and disappear. They may give you a handwritten “contract” with dubious language that is open to interpretation about the amount actually owed. Our seniors seem to be favorite targets of these folks.

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According to the Better Business Bureau, in 2021, 22 “home improvement” scams were reported to our scam-tracker by Shelby County consumers for a loss of $74,317.56.  All of these losses were reported by seniors. Most of these were storm chasers, or fly-by-night “contractors” who took money and never returned.

pevita pearce

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