Hannibal City Manager Jeff LaGarce has issued a warning to Hannibal residents whose trees and homes were damaged by the May 20 storm. He advises the public to hire only licensed, credible contractors for tree debris removal or home repairs. The city is concerned about opportunists coming to Hannibal to take advantage of storm victims.
Natural disasters such as Hannibal’s storm serve as “magnets” for people who prey on the distress of disaster victims. A common tactic is to negotiate a $500 fee for service, get paid up front, then vanish without doing the work.
Another scam is to charge a set fee, do the work, then increase the bill, claiming it cost more and threatening a lawsuit if the bill is not paid. This is fraud. The city encourages residents to protect themselves against these practices.
Scammers are difficult to prosecute because they provide false names, commit fraud and leave town, often before the victim realizes what has happened.
The city’s advice is to hire only licensed contractors for tree removal or repair work. Hannibal has good, credible, licensed services. A licensed company has already provided the city all business information, and the city has contact information for each company owner. The company is required to have insurance that protects the customer against any damage that may occur.
Anyone approached by company who is unsure if it is licensed may contact the city clerk’s office at (573) 221-0111, Ext. 221. Anyone doing contracting work in Hannibal, whether living in Hannibal or not, is required to have a license.
Also, the city urges resident to obtain a written quote or contract before hiring someone, so if an attempt to cheat the customer occurs, the city may be able to prosecute.