CLARKSVILLE, TN - The City of Clarksville and Montgomery County would like to warn residents affected by the storm on Dec. 9 to be wary of scammers in the area. These storm chasers, as they are often called, seek to make a profit off of storm victims while claiming to offer assistance.
According to the Better Business Bureau (BBB), common scams after a weather related disaster include but are not limited to grant scams, government imposter scams, fake rental listings, document replacement scams, insurance scams, relief scams and contractor fraud (tree removal, roof repair, landscaping, etc.)
The BBB recommends storm victims take the following steps to protect themselves from scammers:
- Contact your insurance company as soon as possible: Ask about the specifics of your policy coverage and filing requirements. In the meantime, save all receipts that could be covered by your policy. This includes but is not limited to food, lodging and repairs.
- Be wary of high-pressure sales tactics: If a contractor is offering you a deal that it too good to be true, it likely is. This is especially true for 'limited-time' offers only good on the spot. When selecting a contractor, do your own research and be proactive in selecting who you work with. Be especially wary of door-to-door contractors. Ask for to see identification, proof of a peddlers permit (required in Clarksville), and check their vehicle for a business name and contact information.
- Do NOT sign over insurance checks to contractors: When working with a contractor, always ask for an invoice and pay them directly. NEVER sign anything that would give a contractor rights to your insurance claims. If you have questions about a contractor, contact your insurance company or agent for assistance.
- Be wary of inspections in places you cannot see: While most contractors abide by the law, be wary of allowing someone to inspect areas of your home that you do not have easy access to, such as crawl spaces, attics, and duct work, where an unethical contractor could create damage to get work.
What to do if you've been scammed
If you feel you have been contacted by a scammer, or are yourself the victim of a scam, please report your situation to law enforcement. As per TCA § 39-14-154, Actions by Home Improvement Services Provider that Constitute Offense, state law makes requirements of the property owner before there are criminal implications for the home improvement services provider.
- Keep copies of all documents and correspondence with the home improvement services provider.
- If after ninety-days have elapsed if no substantial portion of the work has been performed, hand deliver or send by certified mail with return receipt requested a written request for a refund to the home improvement services provider.
- Also send a copy of the written refund request by certified mail return receipt requested to:
Commerce and Insurance
Division of Consumer Affairs
500 James Robertson Parkway, 12th Floor
Nashville, TN 37243-0600
- Ten days after the request letter has been received or refused to be accepted by the home improvement services provider, the residential owner may contact the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office if the residence is outside the city limits or if within the city limits contact the Clarksville Police Department by dialing 911 to file a report.
If convicted of TCA § 39-14-154, Actions by Home Improvement Services Provider, you may face felony charges and jail time graded pursuant to Theft TCA § 39-14-105