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Storm Cleanup Brings Out Scammers

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Thursday's storm uprooted and toppled a tree in a neighborhood near Montgomery College in Rockville, Md.
Kathy Goldgeier
Thursday's storm uprooted and toppled a tree in a neighborhood near Montgomery College in Rockville, Md.

Cleanup from Thursday's storm continues around the region. While each storm may differ in the damage it does, Eric Friedman who heads the Montgomery County Office of Consumer Protection says the complaints his office gets during cleanup usually don't change.

"Don't hire the first person that knocks on your door, because that is probably the best way to get in trouble," he says. "Every time there is a storm, the unscrupulous merchants unfortunately follow the storm right in."

Friedman advises any homeowner who needs repairs or tree removal to get three estimates before hiring anyone. He adds they should always pick a licensed contractor to do so.

"We just want to make sure that we don't have any stories [of people] who've paid money to someone, and then that person disappears and doesn't do the work, and we're left trying to find someone named Joe in a white van," says Friedman.

Since this storm knocked down thousands of trees, Friedman advises that in order to remove them, people should hire contractors licensed as "tree experts" from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. He also says home repair contractors should be licensed by the Maryland Home Improvement Commission.

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