Dealing with storm damage? Seek trusted, local contractors, not transients who could rip you off

MILWAUKEE -- Storms pushed through on Monday, May 15th and again on Wednesday, May 17th -- some of them strong-to-severe, and the storms left damage in their wake. Officials with the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) are asking homeowners to be alert, so as to not be taken advantage of by transient contractors, or so-called "storm chasers."

If you're dealing with storm damage, you're urged to seek trusted, local contractors for repair projects.

"Already our agency is hearing from homeowners and law enforcement who have had contacts with out-of-state work crews canvassing neighborhoods in the aftermath of the recent storms," said Frank Frassetto, division administrator for the DATCP in a news release.  "Use caution in your interactions with these groups, never let them into your home, and don't give in to their high-pressure pitches. These workers move quickly from town to town, leaving you with little or no recourse if you are ripped off, if they damage your property, or if there is a problem with a repair they make on your home."

DATCP officials said a good first step with a storm repair project should be to research trusted local contractors.

Ask for references from friends, family members, and co-workers, and contact DATCP's Consumer Protection Hotline (800-422-7128) to find out about complaints against particular businesses.

Wisconsin's "Storm Chaser Law" gives DATCP enforcement tools to protect consumers and honest businesses alike by helping prevent insurance fraud.

Highlights of the law include:

    Here are additional tips from DATCP officials for homeowners with storm damage:

      Local door-to-door solicitation rules vary by municipality, and there are legitimate businesses that may knock on your door with a sales pitch.  A good practice to follow is to request a business representative's permit to operate if your municipality has a door-to-door sales ordinance.

      For additional information or to file a complaint, visit the Consumer Protection Bureau at, send an e-mail to or call the Consumer Protection Hotline toll-free at 1-800-422-7128.