breaking news

Police: Urbana man beat cat nearly to death, claimed it was a raccoon

After the storm, watch for the scam

Some home repair companies troll for targets.We talked to Mike DeWine and got his advice.

It’s inevitable that a damaging storm will be coming around again to this part of Ohio. Just as inevitable are “storm chasers,” a common nickname for unscrupulous home repair companies trying to make a quick buck for your misfortune.

“We’ve had this problem for a long time,” says Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine. “I was living in Cedarville during the Xenia tornado in 1974 and even back then you heard about dishonest people trying to make easy money from other people’s losses.”

After a damaging storm, especially a widespread one, home repair scam artists come to town, knocking on doors and offering to fix real or imagined damage to roofs, windows and other parts of the home. Some actually do a bit of work, usually poor quality or unnecessary, but many move on after taking deposit money.

Some scammers come months after the storm, offering to “check your roof” and then magically find sections that need repair. Storm chasers often pressure the home owner to sign a contract now, assuring their victim that their homeowner’s insurance will pay for it. But the homeowner is stuck with a signed contract no matter what.

“A lot of companies set up a local shop temporarily,” says Scott Flischel, a State Farm Insurance agent in Springboro. “Homeowners are smart to do business with an established company who has been here a long time.”

When storm damage occurs, homeowners are eager to get the repairs done and therein is the problem, says DeWine. “Everyone wants immediate work but there are not enough reliable contractors to do all the work,” he says. “Dishonest people see an opportunity and unfortunately, some homeowners abandon common sense in a time of stress.”

But work is often done poorly or not at all.

“In 2012, complaints against home improvement companies increased by 14 percent from the previous year,” reports John North, president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving Dayton and the Miami Valley. “Complaints against roofers went up by 49 percent in the same period.”

The Economic Crimes Unit was established by Attorney General DeWine to help prepare criminal consumer fraud cases for local prosecution. “Civil suits help people get their money back, but we also want these guys to face criminal prosecution,” DeWine says.

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in

How headache pain happens and what can help
How headache pain happens and what can help

If you’ve noticed an uptick in how often you’ve had a headache this summer, you’re not alone. Allergies, travel stress, dehydration, humidity and extreme heat can all lead to headaches. “Although there are several types of headaches, migraine and tension headaches are the most common,” says neurologist Michelle Noel, DO...
Fiona the hippo is 6 months old today, so here are 6 of our FAVORITE photos
Fiona the hippo is 6 months old today, so here are 6 of our FAVORITE photos

She’s the little hippo that could. Well, maybe not so little anymore. Regardless, she’s won over millions of hearts and has plenty of fans. Today, July 24, Fiona turns six months old. What better way to celebrate this milestone than with six of our favorite photos?
It’s the 2nd-leading cause of absence from work

Irritable bowel syndrome is characterized by uncomfortable gastrointestinal symptoms, but it’s the effect the health issue can have on one’s everyday life that has the greatest impact on sufferers. Irritable bowel syndrome, also known as IBS, is a health issue that affects up to 20 percent of Americans with many chronic symptoms such as...
Swimmer’s ear can be avoided, here’s how

Whether you’re plunging into your neighborhood pool or jumping waves at the beach, an ugly bout of swimmer’s ear may be just a splash away. Acute otitis externa, commonly known as swimmer’s ear, is an infection of the ear canal - the tubular opening that carries sound from the outside of the body to the eardrum. “The infection...
Parenting with the Kid Whisperer: Mom or servant? Hmmm…

Dear Kid Whisperer, I have three boys, aged 8, 12, and 16, who are all quite disrespectful and very unappreciative of me. It’s very hurtful. I am a stay-at-home mom and I think of myself as being great at my job. I cook them hot meals, do their laundry, clean their rooms, drive them everywhere, and help them with their homework. I take care of...
More Stories