(WFRV) – When a major storm rolls through, it can feel like a whirlwind in more ways than one, especially if your property has been damaged. Knowing what to do after a storm hits is just as important as preparing for a storm.

From cleaning your property to watching out for potential scams, the aftermath of a storm can bring numerous risks to anyone’s front yard, but a good game plan can help get you get out of trouble.

According to the Better Business Bureau (BBB), you should always get three estimates, get everything in writing, and pay with a credit card when hiring a contractor for any job. After a natural disaster, however, people are in even more of a panic when damage occurs, and that’s what scammers prey on.

The first step that should be taken after a storm, is to first make sure you and others have no injuries that need medical attention. Secondly, you should check for any potential hazards, such as downed trees and power lines.

After temporary repairs have been made and small debris removed, you should take pictures of the damage and contact your insurance provider. The most crucial step is to plan for repairs and find a trustworthy contractor.

The following are tips provided by the BBB for victims of natural disasters:

  • Contact your insurance company.
    • Ask about your policy coverage.
    • Save all receipts, including those for food, temporary housing, or other expenses that may be covered under your policy.
    • Your insurance company should also be able to recommend contractors.
  • Do your research.
    • Check your state agency responsible for registering or licensing contractors.
    • Contractors should always be candid about how the homeowner can verify their license.
    • A contractor should always be willing to give references as well.
  • Resist high-pressure sales.
    • Don’t make a premature decision, some scammers will pressure you into signing a contract immediately in order to get a better deal.
  • Be especially careful of door-to-door contractors.
    • Many cities require a solicitation permit if sales people go door-to-door, and always ask for identification.
  • Don’t sign over insurance checks to contractors.
    • Get an invoice from the contractor and pay them directly.
    • The best payment option is a credit card, which offers additional fraud protection over other forms of payment.
    • Don’t sign any documents that give the contractor any rights to your insurance claims.
  • Be mindful regarding places you can’t see.
    • Be careful allowing someone you do not know to inspect your roof and other areas of your house. Some scammers may actually create damage to get work.

If you feel as though you may have been in contact with a potential scammer, make sure to remember the ‘company’s’ name and enough information to forward the complaint to the company. Help the BBB investigate and warn others by reporting the scam here.

For help with finding a BBB Accredited Business or to see a business’s BBB rating, click here.