Triangle residents urged to beware scammers offering sweet tree-debris deals

jshaffer@newsobserver.comFebruary 12, 2014 

  • Tips for dealing with downed trees

    • Ask for proof of insurance. A reputable company will have coverage for personal, property damage and workers’ compensation.

    • Do not hire workers going door-to-door.

    • Never allow workers to “top” trees, which can make trees more dangerous and take longer for them to recover.

    • Search for a tree company through the Better Business Bureau or the International Society of Arboriculture website, www.treesaregood.com.

    • Do not pay upfront.

    • Compare prices among several companies.

    • Check to see whether the price includes removal.

    Sources: N.C. Attorney General’s Office, International Society of Arboriculture.

— Once the snow is piled and the ice adds a slippery coat, expect a new danger from the winter storm: scam artists seeking to cash in on the damage.

N.C. Attorney General Roy Cooper warned Wednesday against hiring disreputable workers to repair and remove trees and limbs felled by icy weather. Unscrupulous tree service companies will travel to areas stricken by tree damage and charge inflated rates.

“Tree damage from ice storms brings out scammers trying to rip you off,” Cooper said. “After a bad storm, tree services will go door-to-door looking for customers. If you need help getting a fallen tree off your home or car, find someone qualified to do the work instead of falling for a scam.”

Tree stress is a real threat when snow and ice weigh down branches, leading to downed trees and power outages, according to the International Society of Arboriculture, an industry group for arborists. The damage is often hard to see while limbs are still hanging, so the group advises against doing work on one’s own.

“Tree limbs damaged in an ice storm can split and break in the treetops, and branches of all sizes can come crashing down at any time, especially during high winds,” said Jim Skiera, ISA executive director.

Shaffer: 919-829-4818

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