News Channel 6 Investigates: Storm Chaser Scams - WJBF-TV ABC 6 Augusta-Aiken

News Channel 6 Investigates: Storm Chaser Scams

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Augusta, GA - Bill Harley has been busy since the ice storm passed through last week.

"A lot of tree damage. A lot of limbs on big houses. Big limbs on small houses. Limbs and tree tops just about everywhere," Harley said.

And all that debris needs to be cleaned up. That's why there are so many crews in the Augusta area.

"Made a lot of new friends. A lot of people have come in here to help people in Augusta and we're glad for that. Really, everybody seems to be pulling together to do a good job," Harley said.

But emergency officials say some of those crews in town may actually be scammers.

"The people that come in, not all of them are scam artists, but you just want to be responsible for your self and make sure that you're not giving your money away before the job is done,"Disaster Preparedness Coordinator Mie Lucas said.

Lucas says she has already received phone calls from residents about contractors going door to door offering cheap services.

"We just want people to be cautious of door to door salesmen saying hey I can help you. If someone shows up at your door and says hey I can remove this tree right now, that's a red flag," Lucas said.

Here are some tips to make sure you pick the right company:

- Ask for a business license.
- Get three different estimates.
- Get a written contract.
- Do not make final payment until work is completed.

"If they have those things and are a reputable company, you can hire them to do the work for you to remove the debris. But they are responsible that if they take that debris down they remove that debris from your property. That should be part of your contract," Lucas said.

And just because a company is from out of town, doesn't mean you shouldn't use them. A lot of the companies are experienced with storm cleanup procedures.

"Of course we like for our Augusta folks to use local people, but just can't do it all," Harley said.

Emergency officials say you should also avoid large cash payments up front.

If you have an investigative story you want me to look into, you can email me at mmiller3@wjbf.com
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