Georgia officials warn of scams after storms | How to protect yourself

Thunderstorms, strong wind gusts and showers are possible throughout metro Atlanta, Wednesday evening. The area has seen its fair share of summer storms this season and some residents have also dealt with the aftermath damage including flooding, power outages and fallen trees.

John King, Georgia Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner, is warning folks to be cautious of storm-related scams when dealing with damage. Not just storm damage but also for parts of Georgia impacted by Idalia.

King says when disaster strikes, it is easy for homeowners to use crews for repairs or tree removal that just knock on their door. He warns that is the prime time for scammers to take advantage of folks, especially the elderly or those with language barriers. 

"When you have a tree on your house, you’re desperate," said King. "You want to do anything it takes and that’s when these folks strike."

State officials recommend avoiding any contractors or tree removal vendors who ask for full payment upfront or only accept cash. They also warn homeowners to be skeptical of anyone who offers to pay your insurance deductible or other no-cost incentives.

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"Try to use someone that is local, that is respected, that has a reputation of treating people well. Be cautious of folks that are coming from out of state," warns King.

He also recommends all homeowners maintain their own, detailed records. "Most of all, make sure to take photographs and save important documents," said King.

If you ever need tree removal services, insurance advisors say it is important to verify that the vendor is insured, firsthand.

"You don’t accept a certificate from the tree service," said Brad Brezina, Partner at Sterling Seacrest Pritchard. "Have their insurance agent send it to you directly as a consumer. And if it’s a large enough job that’s not an utter emergency, you want to run it by your insurance carrier to make sure they approve."

You can also look the vendors up on the Better Business Bureau website to see if they have any complaints.

For tree removal services, you can verify the website that the tree removal provider has a valid arborist license through the International Society of Arboriculture.