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Better Business Bureau warns tornado victims to watch out for scammers

The Better Business Bureau warns of unscrupulous contractors trolling for business in tornado-ravaged neighborhoods.

RICHARDSON, Texas — Almost as soon as the wind stilled and the dust from debris settled, roofers, contractors and tree trimmers started peppering storm-ravaged neighborhoods looking for business. 

"Seemed as fast as the tornado passed then the people who were looking for the quick work and the easy dollar well they started to show up in different places,” said James Wilson, a victim of Sunday night's tornadoes. 

Contractors were driving up and down the streets of devastated neighborhoods within hours of the storm.

"The minute this happened we started getting calls from people saying they were canvassing the streets,” said Phylissia Landix, a vice president for the Better Business Bureau.

RELATED: Tornadoes confirmed in Ferris, Midlothian, Rockwall, bringing total to six in North Texas

Storms are big business for contractors but the Better Business Bureau cautions residents to take their time before deciding on who to hire.

"We always tell people we know this is scary and there has been a lot of devastation but take a second to pause because an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” Landix said.

RELATED: Do you have storm damage? Here's what to do, how to avoid scams

The Better Business Bureau recommends: 

  • Contact your insurance company immediately to inquire about policy coverage.
  • Document the damage to your property and take pictures.
  • Get references from friends and relatives and contact Better Business Bureau to get reviews
  • Be sure to get a contract that specifies the schedule for releasing payments to contract and when the work will start and be finished.

"Make sure they are only taking payment installments. Do not trust anyone who wants to take your insurance money in one fell swoop,” Landix said.

Landix also warned about people calling with claims they are collecting money for victim relief. Scammers often set up fake charities.