Post-Disaster Scams

The First Tennessee Area Agency on Aging and Disability (FTAAAD), in conjunction with the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency (TEMA) and other First Tennessee area service agencies, has put together a disaster preparedness guide specifically for Tennesseans age 60 and older.

It's not enough that you're already in trouble and in need after the worst happens. No, you have to also be on guard against people looking to take advantage of you. That's the reality, though. Where homes are damaged, especially more than one, chances are there's someone looking to make a quick buck at your expense—maybe a few thousand bucks at your expense.

Protect Yourself 

  • Always check workers' credentials.
  • Never let anyone into your home without first asking for identification.  When in doubt, call the company and verify the identity of the worker.
  • Ask for an address and phone number if the worker tells you they are self-employed.
  • Ask for an estimate in writing and tell all workers you will get back to them.
  • Be wary of anyone who offers to inspect your home for free.
  • Always get a second opinion and written estimates from one or two local firms.
  • Get guarantees in writing.
  • Ask for references and call them. That said, also keep in mind that anyone can be a reference. (I could give you my cousin's number, and if you call he can tell you I'm the best electrician alive. But if I wire your house and somehow manage not to kill myself, you will definitely regret hiring me to do the job.) It's best if the references come from people you know: either a reputable business or neighbor, friend, or family member you already trust.
  • If an offer is good “now or never” you can bet it never will be good. Don't let yourself be pressured into making a decision.
  • Do not pay for the job in full until the work is completed to your satisfaction.
  • Be cautious with repair contracts if repair work is required.  Check with the your nearest Better Business Bureau office or your local Chamber of Commerce to verify the credentials of those offering to provide repairs or services. You can also sometimes find reviews online, just search using the name of the person or business offering to do the work.