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Better Business Bureau- How to avoid flood scammers

ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI)-Flash flooding can be devastating on communities. Water is up to the roof of some homes after the Meramec River overflowed its banks. When disaster strikes, scammers are ready to prey on victims.

Chris Thetford from the Better Business Bureau tells us how to protect ourselves.

Flash-flooding means that area residents might need the services of a waterproofing company to help them with water-logged basements. Better Business Bureau (BBB) advises consumers to check contractors out before signing a contract or paying any money.

The BBB offers BBB Business Profiles that can help you find a trustworthy contractor or research the ones recommended by friends. The reviews include valuable information like how long a contractor has been in business and how many complaints, if any have been filed against the company and how the company has responded.

The review includes a rating from A+ to F, with F the lowest rating BBB gives to any company.

BBB also offers the Request A Quote service, which allows consumers to obtain an estimate from one or more BBB Accredited Businesses. These businesses have pledged to comply with BBB Standards, such as advertising honestly, honoring promises and responding to customers` complaints.

Simply click on the Request A Quote tab in the BBB Business Profiles and fill out the form with your contact information and a description of the service you need.

BBB also helps consumers resolve hundreds of complaints against contractors every year. If you need BBB assistance, go to bbb.org or call 314-645-3300.

BBB`s eight tips to consider when hiring contractors for emergency work:

1. Ask at least three companies for bids based on the same requirements. Discuss the bids in detail with each contractor and ask them about variations in pricing. The lowest-priced bid may not be the best.

2. Ask about the company`s insurance. Does it carry worker`s compensation, property damage and liability insurance? Ask for proof of insurance or for the name of an insurance agent you can call to verify the coverage.

3. Ask whether the contractor is licensed for the type of work you need. Does the firm meet the bonding requirements of your town, county or state?

4. Check with local authorities to find out whether permits are needed. The contractor should be aware of any permits or inspections that may be required.

5. Ask the contractor to provide a lien waiver when the job is completed. A lien waiver is a statement that all suppliers and contractors have been paid for materials and labor.

6. Ask for a contract and read it. Get any verbal promises in writing. Make sure the contract includes the start date and expected completion date.

7. Don`t pay the entire amount due until the work is completed, and you are satisfied. Be careful if a contractor wants to be paid in full up front. In some cases, a contractor may need a down payment to cover materials. But the bulk of the money should not be due until the work is complete.

8. Always check a company`s BBB Business Profile at bbb.org.

Consumers may obtain BBB Business Profiles or post Customer Reviews by going to bbb.org.

Assistance also is available by calling 314-645-3300.