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General Advice for disaster survivors

Natural disasters like tornadoes, floods, fires, severe hail and snow storms can bring out the best in people. Unfortunately, crises also brings out people who choose to take advantage of the survivors. Do not rush to make repairs or settle insurance claims right away. Legitimate local organizations, state government agencies and insurance companies, coordinated by Voluntary Organizations Active In Disaster (VOAD), will be there to provide assistance.

When looking for contractors to make damage repairs, working with insurance adjusters, seeking aid from charities or making charitable donations to help the survivors, Better Business Bureau® recommends that homeowners, businesses and donors start their search with BBB® and Start With Trust®.

Qualities of trustworthy businesses

Trust takes years to build and it can be lost in a minute. Trust is necessary for repeated, sustainable success. BBB’s Standards for Trust summarize the important elements of creating and maintaining trust in business.
A trustworthy business will:

  • Build Trust Establish and maintain a positive track record in the marketplace.
  • Advertise Honestly Adhere to established standards of advertising and selling.
  • Tell the Truth Honestly represent products and services, including clear and adequate disclosures of all material terms.
  • Be Transparent Openly identify the nature, location and ownership of the business and clearly disclose all policies, guarantees and procedures that bear on a customer’s decision to buy.
  • Honor Promises Abide by all written agreements and verbal representations.
  • Be Responsive Address marketplace disputes quickly, professionally and in good faith.
  • Safeguard Privacy Protect any data collected against mishandling and fraud, collect personal information only as needed and respect the preferences of consumers regarding the use of their information.
  • Embody Integrity Approach all business dealings, marketplace transactions and commitments with integrity.

Find trustworthy businesses before beginning damage repair.

Beware of any service provider who uses high pressure sales tactics, requires full payment upfront or asks you to get the necessary permits. In addition to offering Business Reviews on tens of thousands of contractors across the U.S., you can also rely on BBB’s Accredited Business Locator at bbbinc.org to find trustworthy service providers in your area. BBB Accreditation Standards require that BBB Accredited Businesses adhere to a strict code of business practices and make a good faith effort to resolve disputes.

Find trustworthy charities when aiding or seeking assistance.

BBB urges donors to make sure their donations will go to legitimate and reputable charities and relief efforts that have the capability to help those in need. Be cautious when relying on third-party recommendations such as bloggers or other websites, as they might not have fully researched the listed relief organizations. Interested donors should visit: bbb.org/charity, for nationally approved charities or bbbinc.org, for locally approved charities to verify that the organization is accredited by BBB and meets its 20 Standards for Charity Accountability.

Disaster survivors should never feel forced to make a hasty decision or to choose an unknown service provider!