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Wisconsinites: Beware Post-Storm Scams

Wisconsin consumer protection experts advise homeowners with storm damage to contact only local, reputable contractors for repairs. (AnadoluAgency/Getty Images)
Wisconsin consumer protection experts advise homeowners with storm damage to contact only local, reputable contractors for repairs. (AnadoluAgency/Getty Images)
May 30, 2017

MADISON, Wis. – The warm weather months in Wisconsin bring storms, flooding, hail and tornadoes, and these powerful storms also bring out the worst in some people.

The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection advises homeowners with storm damage to deal only with trusted local contractors for repairs, not with the out-of-state crews that roam the Midwest during the summer months.

Frank Frassetto, the division administrator for Trade and Consumer Protection, says his department already had reports of these scammers victimizing Wisconsinites.

"These folks see these huge storm events coming through and devastating communities where essentially the type of damage that occurs is so large that it tends to overwhelm the local contractor base, and these folks make a beeline for these areas," Frassetto states.

Frassetto says these crews move quickly from one storm-damaged town to another, leaving their victims with no recourse for shoddy work or incomplete repairs.

According to Frassetto, you should never let an unknown work crew into your home, and don't give in to their high-pressure pitches. Frassetto says his department has had plenty of complaints about out-of-state work crews that either don't finish their work or demand more money to finish it.

"Or they do a really poor job and leave, and the consumer is left holding the bag with a bad, bad repair job and one that they may ultimately end up having to pay a trusted local contractor more for, because they have to fix it," he points out.

Frassetto says if you have storm damage, a good first step is to research trusted local contractors. Ask for references from friends, family members, and co-workers. And, never do a handshake deal. Get any agreement in writing.

"If you have something in writing, some third party is going to be able to help adjudicate or resolve the dispute because the expectations are clearly written in a contract and all parties have read it, but then also signed it," he explains.

For more information or to file a complaint, the state Consumer Protection Bureau is online at datcp.wisconsin.gov.


Tim Morrissey, Public News Service - WI