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Police warn of contractor scams as Pittsburgh area cleans up after storms. Here's what to watch out for

Police warn of contractor scams as Pittsburgh area cleans up after storms
Police warn of contractor scams as Pittsburgh area cleans up after storms 02:25

SAXONBURG, Pa. (KDKA) -- Clean-up is underway in Saxonburg after Wednesday night's powerful storm toppled trees, damaged the roofs of some homes and knocked out power to thousands of people. Police say weather emergencies are ripe opportunities for scammers and unlicensed contractors.

After the damaging storms last night, you might need to quickly hire someone for cleanup or repairs. But not everyone has your best interest in mind. 

The sound of cleanup resonated across the Saxonburg community as people tried to recover from Wednesday night's powerful storm that swept through the area, toppling trees, knocking out power, closing roads and canceling school.

"The rain was coming and hitting the house sideways and all the trees, the trees were just blowing back and forth and they were like almost bending over in half, so it was very scary," said Saxonburg resident Sandy Brown. 

The past few weeks have been relentless with severe weather forcing many folks to look for help as they get back on their feet. But authorities say beware.

"You get a disaster situation and then it's prime picking," said Saxonburg Police Chief Joseph Beachem.

Beachem says scammers are very convincing but says there are ways to spot the tactics scammers use. Recognizing these common signs, he says, could help you avoid one.

"Never sign a contract that has blanks in it. Be on the lookout for out-of-state plates on the contractor representative vehicle, out-of-state contractor licenses -- those are all red flags," Beachem says.

Beachem adds never pay for services up front and never ever let someone interpret your homeowner's insurance policy for you. 

"If you're not sure, call us. We'll be happy to assist you in determining whether it's a scam," Beachem said.

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