Even in an emergency situation, consumers need to be vigilant against the unscrupulous few who seek to take advantage of those who are dealing with a crisis situation. The following tips and information can help you as you recover:
Following a disaster, businesses and individuals are prohibited from unreasonably raising the price of essential goods and services in direct response to the disaster – regardless of whether the disaster occurs in Tennessee or in another state. If you suspect a business is price gouging:
Frustrated and anxious homeowners eager to get their property back in shape may neglect to take the usual precautions when hiring someone to perform home repairs. Insurance settlements and flood relief are tempting targets for unscrupulous contractors. Take time to verify through the Tennessee Board of Licensing Contractors that contractors and other businesses are licensed and also check for complaints. Be wary of high pressure sales tactics and check references.
You may have to move your belongings into storage while repairs are made. Before choosing a facility, verify the firm has adequate security and offers insurance coverage. When selecting a moving company, ask for references and estimates. Read and understand any contract before you sign it or make payments. You can check the background of a moving company with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Also, federal regulations require a moving company to supply customers with a copy of "Your Rights and Responsibilities When You Move."
Following a natural disaster, there is often an outpouring of support for victims, and there are those who will attempt to take advantage. Be cautious of any charity that does not explain how your money will assist disaster victims, and avoid giving to someone who demands a donation immediately. You can find out if a charity is registered to solicit in Tennessee through the Tennessee Department of State.
When a vehicle suffers flood damage, the insurance companies will normally declare the vehicle a totaled loss and buy it from their policyholder. In most states, including Tennessee included, the vehicle title is supposed to be marked with either a flood or salvage brand, or a combination of the both. There is no guarantee that vehicle flood damage will be reported but there are steps you can take to protect yourself. Before you buy, trace the car's title history and have a reputable mechanic inspect the vehicle for signs of water damage.