As residents scramble to hire crews to haul debris, trim their trees and fix their roofs, scammers are hoping to cash in.
Licensed landscaper Jerry Brown says that while his phone is ringing off the hook from customers, he sees traveling salesmen who claim to be landscapers going door-to door soliciting business and demanding money up front for a job that may never get done.
“There's some people down south that aren't licensed, insured and bonded and they're going to gouge people,” he says. “Sometimes they do a good job sometimes they won't, but you're taking a risk.”
Officials say the victims are typically the elderly and those looking for quick service.
Checkbook.org president Robert Krughoff, says consumer fraud skyrockets right after big storms. And it's not just from scammers.
He says they see firms that shouldn't be doing work charging exorbitant prices and doing bad jobs. He said they also see responsible established firms trying to make a little more. They businesses claim to be very busy and need to respond to who is paying more.
Krughoff says that's why it's important to take several bids before making any big decisions.
“We got bids from a large number of firms on exactly the same removal of the same tree and found prices ranging from less than $2,000 to more than $6,000 that's for the exact same job,” he says.
Through a special arrangement with the nonprofit Washington Consumers CHECKBOOK, ABC7 viewers can access CHECKBOOK’s ratings of 109 local tree care services without a subscription until Tuesday, July 10, 2012, and can view CHECKBOOK’s tree care advice indefinitely by clicking here.