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Weather emergencies don’t take a winter vacation. Scammers don’t either. Just like you, they’re watching the weather reports and preparing for storms – and they’re counting on catching you unawares.

Winter Storm Elliott affected the U.S. from coast to coast. The storm’s chilling effects from record cold and snow to the loss of electricity from high winds downing trees and power lines, were felt across much of the nation.

If your business has been affected by Elliott or another weather event, here’s some advice for hiring a contractor or restoration company to help with clean-up and repairs:

  • Get recommendations from people you know and trust.
  • Ask contractors for IDs, licenses, proof of insurance, and references before paying for services. 
  • Search online for the company’s name with words like “scam” or “complaint.”
  • Pay by credit card or check if possible, or checks – but never with cash, gift cards, or through wire transfer companies like Western Union or MoneyGram. And only pay in full after the work is done and you’re satisfied with it.
  • Get a contract. Never rely on handshake deals. Make sure all promises are in writing and that you understand what you’re signing.

To learn more about ways to prepare for, deal with, and recover from a weather emergency – at work and at home – visit Small Business Administration also has advice for businesses about preparing for all kinds of emergencies, and the Department of Homeland Security’s “Ready” initiative has toolkits for business in English and Spanish.

If you suspect a scam, report it to the FTC at

It is your choice whether to submit a comment. If you do, you must create a user name, or we will not post your comment. The Federal Trade Commission Act authorizes this information collection for purposes of managing online comments. Comments and user names are part of the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) public records system, and user names also are part of the FTC’s computer user records system. We may routinely use these records as described in the FTC’s Privacy Act system notices. For more information on how the FTC handles information that we collect, please read our privacy policy.

The purpose of this blog and its comments section is to inform readers about Federal Trade Commission activity, and share information to help them avoid, report, and recover from fraud, scams, and bad business practices. Your thoughts, ideas, and concerns are welcome, and we encourage comments. But keep in mind, this is a moderated blog. We review all comments before they are posted, and we won’t post comments that don’t comply with our commenting policy. We expect commenters to treat each other and the blog writers with respect.

  • We won’t post off-topic comments, repeated identical comments, or comments that include sales pitches or promotions.
  • We won’t post comments that include vulgar messages, personal attacks by name, or offensive terms that target specific people or groups.
  • We won’t post threats, defamatory statements, or suggestions or encouragement of illegal activity.
  • We won’t post comments that include personal information, like Social Security numbers, account numbers, home addresses, and email addresses. To file a detailed report about a scam, go to

We don't edit comments to remove objectionable content, so please ensure that your comment contains none of the above. The comments posted on this blog become part of the public domain. To protect your privacy and the privacy of other people, please do not include personal information. Opinions in comments that appear in this blog belong to the individuals who expressed them. They do not belong to or represent views of the Federal Trade Commission.

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