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Avoid tree removal scams during Hurricane Florence cleanup

Friday, September 21, 2018

As North Carolinians begin recovering from Hurricane Florence, our office has started to receive some complaints about tree removal scams. While our Consumer Protection Division works to resolve issues on behalf of all consumers, the best way to protect yourself from scams is to be diligent about the business you hire.

Here are some tips to follow when looking to clean up tree and debris after a storm:   

  • Be wary of any individual or business that comes door-to-door offering their services, especially if they’re not from your area. Instead, get local business recommendations from friends, neighbors and others who you trust before you contact a service.
  • Watch out for anyone trying to rush you or pressure you into hiring them. If you feel rushed or if it’s a time-limited offer, find someone else to do the work.
  • Compare multiple estimates from different business so you’re confident you’re getting a fair price.
  • Make sure your contract is in writing and includes the price, schedule, and anything else you agreed on.
  • Make sure you have all of the company’s contact information, including a mailing address.
  • Check that the company is insured. And contact your insurance company in case you need an adjuster’s approval before you begin the work.
  • Don’t pay upfront, and don’t pay with cash. Ideally, use a credit card so you can dispute payment if needed. Pay when the work is completed, not before. Some tree cutters may collect deposits from consumers and then disappear without doing any work.
  • Check out the company with our office’s Consumer Protection Division (1-877-5-NO-SCAM) and the Better Business Bureau to see if they have complaints against them.

If you have problems with a tree removal company or want to ask questions before hiring one, contact our Consumer Protection Division at 1-877-5-NO-SCAM. You can also file a consumer complaint or report possible price gouging online.   

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