Consumer Alert

Homeowners and businesses who are trying to recover from the severe damage that resulted from Monday's storm should beware so that they do not become victims a second time.

Dennis Horton, Director of the Regional Office of the BBB of Chicago and Northern Illinois says "as sure as the rains fell there will be unscrupulous businesses that will try to exploit the disaster and try to scam homeowners and businesses that, in some cases, are in need of making major repairs."

Horton adds "while there is a sense of urgency here we urge consumers and business owners to take the time to carefully consider repair contracts and not to rush into making expensive decisions that can aggravate an already stressful time.”

The Better Business Bureau suggests there are many issues that residents should consider:

1) Be very careful before contracting to have damage or destroyed property repaired.
2) Do not give into demands to make excessively large down payments. And don't make full payment until all the work is done to your satisfaction
3) Do research – contact the BBB before you hire a contractor and avoid businesses who come to your door with a good deal.
4) Ask to see any required state or local permits or licenses.
5) Work with local contractors who have a verifiable track record.

According, to the Illinois Attorney General's Office, Illinois has a Home Repair and Remodeling Act that requires contractors to furnish customers with written contracts for any repair or remodeling work costing more than $1,000. Additionally, the Act states a contract must be signed by both the customer and the contractor.

The law also requires contractors to carry at least minimum amounts of insurance for property damage, bodily injury and improper home repair. Residents who would like information on a business can contact the Rockford office of the Better Business Bureau at 815-963-2222.