Beware of disaster recovery schemes after Iselle

As residents on the Big Island continue to pick up the pieces from Iselle, many will be looking to make repairs to their homes and businesses.

But the Better Business Bureau says beware as schemers may be out there looking to take advantage of you.

The recovery phase after damage from a storm like Iselle usually brings out the best in people, with many pitching in to help friends and total strangers, but it can also bring out the worst in people.

“From the reports we’ve seen on the Big Island, there is quite a bit of damage there and so as people are trying to get that repair work done, it creates opportunity for folks that are less than ethical to step in and try and cheat you out of your hard-earned money,” said Gregory Dunn, CEO, Hawaii Better Business Bureau.

So the Better Business Bureau is warning residents to be on the lookout for shady contractors trying to solicit business opportunities.

“These folks fly in from other islands, they may even live in your community or they fly in from the mainland and they’re pretty savvy. They’re good salespeople and they’re going to come to your door, they’re going to ask you to let them do the work. ‘Hey we’re right down the street. We can do it really quick and easy and your insurance company will pay for it,'” said Dunn.

Dunn says that’s a red flag.

“Most reputable businesses won’t operate that way,” he said. “You don’t want someone that’s going to try to force you to sign right now in order to get the best deal.  That kind of high pressure sales tactic is not an ethical way of doing business.”

Here are some tips for storm victims:

  • Research a contractor before agreeing to anything.  Make sure you know who you’re dealing with.
  • Get a written contract that details exactly what kind of work will be done and for how much.
  • Avoid paying in cash.  A credit card transaction will give you a better chance at getting your money back.

If you have a consumer complaint, call our action line volunteers at 591-0222, weekdays from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., or send an email to

You can also contact the Better Business Bureau toll free from the neighbor islands at 1-877-222-6551.

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