Storm victims on lookout for unlicensed, uninsured contractors

Victims of Sunday’s early morning disastrous tornadoes are dealing with more than just damaged properties. Now, they have to look out for unlicensed or uninsured contractors trying to make easy money.

Al Fowler tells 8 On Your Side contractors were at his door, pleading for work, before the sun came up on Sunday. Fowler has more than a dozen business cards that contractors left behind.

Storm chasers

“I don’t even bother taking the cards anymore,” he said. “I tell them they’re wasting their time.”

RELATED: Don’t fall victim to ‘storm chasers’, shady contractors – BBB advice

Some are licensed contractors, simply looking for work. But authorities warn unlicensed contractors are on the prowl, too. And even some work that doesn’t require a state license is a problem if the contractor doesn’t have insurance. If something goes wrong on the job, the homeowner could be held responsible.

8 On Your Side checked up on contractors Tuesday, and it didn’t take long to find a crew in an unmarked truck. They didn’t give their names, and one of the contractors said he was “freelancing.” When asked if he or his workers had licenses, he said, “no.”

8 On Your Side wanted to know what would happen if someone fell off a roof. “No one is going to fall off that roof,” he replied.

The Better Business Bureau warns homeowners to do their homework before hiring contractors. Be leery of anyone asking to be paid in cash or for payment in full. The BBB recommends paying no more than 10 percent upfront for a job.

Storm chasers

Check the contractor out online to make sure they are licensed to do the job they are performing. Some jobs don’t require a license, but the BBB recommends anyone working at your home have insurance. Look out for contractors who say they have extra material and can cut you a deal for cash.

Also, look out for high-pressure sales tactics. Some homeowners tell 8 On Your Side contractors have pushed services they don’t even need.

Louise Rathway says a contractor aggressively trying to sell her storm windows. She says she has more important storm cleanup to worry about and does not need that now. It was difficult, though, to get him to take no for an answer.

“A lot of people are older than I am and maybe not as aggressive as I am and they think that people all want to help you, and some people do, some people don’t,” Rathway said. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others and keep the conversation on topic and civil. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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