Disaster? Don’t Hire A “Fire Chaser”
It can often come as a relief to have “professionals” contacting you to get your life back in order when a property disaster strikes, but when you’ve just been through a serious life event like a catastrophe you certainly don’t want a high pressure salesman hounding you. Sadly, many of those “professionals” don’t have your best interests in mind, and in all likelihood, are attempting to make a quick dollar at your expense.
“Fire Chaser” contractors, (we also know them as “ambulance chasers”) will either be from out of state – when a regional disaster has hit the community, or they will listen to the local fire and police scanners and respond to your disaster such as a fire before the fire department has even finished their work. They won’t have legitimate credentials to verify, or certification, or any positive reviews online. These fire chasers strike at a time when you’re at your most vulnerable.
Signs of a Fire-Chaser:
- The prices and estimates are too good to be true. Financial damage is no doubt linked to disasters, and while your costs can be somewhat recouped through insurance and other means, you could still be looking at a loss. Businesses in particular will have their commercial operations disrupted until cleaning, repairs, and restoration take place. Fire-Chaser contractors take advantage of this by offering you estimates which are so low, they’re just unbelievable.
- They have credentials but… they catch you when you are most vulnerable pretending to “really care” and show a level of empathy that makes you think they are truly there to help you. In fact, they are there to help themselves to a sale before you can think about who you really want to hire!
- No trail. Whether it’s online reviews or a quick list of links connected to the name of the contractor, every professional worth working with has some sort of trail that you can follow to read reviews, verify credentials, and more. If you’re finding the contractor in question is invisible to the internet, that’s usually because they’ve given you false credentials, including aliases that they work under.
- They target people with low income or high costs. From people who may be struggling with costs, to the elderly, and other demographics, they’re looking for people that are currently facing a big challenge and looking for an easy way out. These contractors take advantage of individuals because not only are they more willing to take any bait, but they’re also less likely to be aware of their rights, or to hire legal services to remedy any wrong doing. This is important if you have a family member that’s recently been in a disaster; be vigilant for any shady contractors that may attempt to prey on them.
Your rights for contractors varies from state to state regarding the length of time by which you can rescind a contract, so even if you’ve already begun working with a contractor or signed any paperwork, be advised that you may have anywhere from 3 to 5 days to pull out and hire a contractor that you can trust.
Remember, even if the contractor seems totally legitimate, the last thing you should be doing is hiring anyone while the fire department and police are still on site! Refuse all “free” offers and even be careful about who the fire chief suggests… he may also be receiving “benefits” from the contractor!