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Better Business Bureau of Connecticut warns against flood repair scams

The CT DOT ferry dock in Rocky Hill, CT after flooding from the Connecticut River on July 12, 2023.
Dave Wurtzel
/
Connecticut Public
The CT DOT ferry dock in Rocky Hill, CT after flooding from the Connecticut River on July 12, 2023.

Extreme flooding across Connecticut this summer has prompted the Better Business Bureau to warn residents against a potential increase in storm-related scams.

Storm chasers target disaster victims, offering unsolicited help in the wake of natural disasters, Connecticut Better Business Bureau Director of Communications Kristen Johnson said.

“Scammers like to take advantage of us when we're most vulnerable, and we certainly are after a natural disaster, when all we want to do is get our home repaired, get our property fixed,” Johnson said.

Common scam methods include requesting money up-front for repair supplies, then disappearing, conducting flawed work that requires additional funds to redo and clandestinely generating work for themselves by causing more damage.

When it comes to areas of our property that are more inaccessible such as a roof, a lot of us aren't going to get on a ladder and go on a roof, we're just going to take them at their word, so they may tear a shingle off and say ‘Hey, you need your roof repaired,’” Johnson said.

It’s too early to tell whether this year’s flooding will create an influx of related scams. However, home improvement scams were the most costly to Connecticut residents last year, according to Johnson. The average victim lost more than $7,500.

By comparison, the next-most costly scam for Connecticut residents in 2022 was for online purchases, in which the average victim lost less than $300.

The federal justice department estimates just 15% of all scams are reported, according to Johnson.

The Better Business Bureau said people can work to prevent falling victim to a repair scam, by working with their home insurance provider to ensure the work will be covered. It also recommends that residents establish a contract with the repair worker and never pay in cash.

Abigail is Connecticut Public's housing reporter, covering statewide housing developments and issues, with an emphasis on Fairfield County communities. She received her master's from Columbia University in 2020 and graduated from the University of Connecticut in 2019. Abigail previously covered statewide transportation and the city of Norwalk for Hearst Connecticut Media. She loves all things Disney and cats.

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