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Law enforcement officers with Parker County and County Judge Mark Riley are encouraging residents to be watchful for tree service scam attempts, as tree branch removals will be necessary in many areas due to the recent ice storm.
“There have been cases in the past of fraudulent companies looking to take advantage of the elderly or unsuspecting and we just wanted to share some tips to our residents so they can avoid being ripped off,” Riley said. “Check on your elderly neighbors. Don’t ever pay in advance and just follow the common sense approaches that we have to take during these times.”
According to the Better Business Bureau some of the tell-tale signs to look for are as follows:
Be very wary after a disaster. A hurricane or tornado sweeping through your city can bring out the worst in people, especially when they see the disaster as an opportunity to make some easy money. If you must use a door-to-door service, make sure that the price is reasonable and verify their insurance and licensure.
Check the company's license. Make sure when a company come out for an estimate that you ask to see its license. Far too often, tree removal companies claim to be licensed but aren't. Don't hesitate to contact the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation to ensure that the license is not expired.
Check the company's insurance. Some tree removal services don't carry any liability or worker's compensation insurance, or they don't have an adequate amount. This can leave you with a lawsuit on your hands. Follow up with the insurance company to guarantee that the company's insurance is current.
Take caution if the price is too low. If the price is too low, more than likely the company doesn't have a long history in the field. The company also may lack the proper licensure and insurance, which means that if an accident were to happen, it would fall on your shoulders financially.
Avoid the outrageously expensive. If the tree service is outrageously expensive, avoid them. For instance, no company should charge you $5,500 to remove one tree that can be accessed without the use of special equipment. If you're unsure of how much you should pay, get multiple estimates to determine the average.
Don't pay first. Never pay for tree removal or pruning until the job is complete to your satisfaction. Companies that ask you to pay up front may take your money and never return to complete the job.
Research the company. Reputation is everything in this business. Read reviews and ratings about the company on web sites such as the BBB and others.