(MOBILE, Ala.) - The Mobile Better Business Bureau is warning homeowners affected by the Christmas Day tornado to be aware of fraudulent contractors.
Mobile BBB President and CEO Stephanie Knight said Friday one person already is claiming they were scammed this week.
Knight said there are reports of a person going door-to-door in Mobile offering repair services.
"The customer and the contractor settled on a money order in the amount of $1,800, and they did provide the money order," Knight said. "There was a commitment from the contractor to come back the next day and start the work, and that didn't happen."
Knight said this scam happens often after a storm or any kind of major disaster.
"People want to get the roof repaired or their house repaired, and it's very emotional and troubling," Knight said.
Knight said homeowners shouldn't make deals with contractors with cash or money orders, and never before the work is done.
"You should always get at least three estimates so you know, even if you're in the ballpark of what that person's requesting," Knight said.
Knight said with big jobs like damage repair, everything should be on paper.
"You absolutely do want to get written documentation, an estimate and then a contract to start a scope of work with some terms and payment dates outlined," Knight said.
Though scammers may look and talk like contractors, Knight said homeowners should ask for a business card.
"An absence of a license, good contact information, store front location to verify this individual there's no way to truly tell that they're a contractor," Knight said.
Homeowners who may be suspicious of a contractor's credentials are asked to contact the Better Business Bureau through their Web site, BBB.org.