Tips to avoid a winter storm scam artist

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - When the heavy snow starts to fall, chances are you will need help.  Whether it's shoveling the driveway or sawing a downed tree limb, someone may knock on your door offering to help—but for a price.

Don't fall victim to the chill of a scam artist. There are a few simple things you need to do before hiring someone to do a job once the snow stops falling.

The Missouri Attorney General's office recommends first and foremost, hire someone who is local.

"Always deal with a local, reputable contractor," Joe Bindbeutel said, chief of the office's Consumer Protection Bureau.  "It is far easier and near uniform that we can work out differences with a local contractor."

Other things to do before hiring someone:

  • Don't be in a hurry
  • Don't be stressed
  • Get everything in writing, including cost and the time it will take to get it done
  • Avoid hiring someone who gets work going door to door

Even when it comes to smaller jobs like shoveling a driveway, it is best to pay for the work once it's complete.

"There's nothing wrong with hiring someone to shovel their walk, but how about they do it before they get paid," Bindbeutel said.

The Better Business Bureau offers good suggestions on what to do before hiring someone to clean off your driveway. For example, you want to ask a snow removal contractor about pricing options. 

According to the BBB website, "Some snow removal contractors charge by the inch, so you'll want to find out how the company calculates the size of the snowfall. Other contractors may offer a fixed price for an entire season, regardless of the amount of snow."


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