RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Scammers are surging through areas where hurricanes Irma and Harvey left damage, saying they’ll do repair work or cut down trees. But the only thing they are doing is taking people’s money.

Before it happens here, you need to know how to protect yourself from fake tree contractors.

Whether it’s a hurricane, a severe thunderstorm, or blizzard – at one point you’re going to have to deal with trees, so it’s best to be prepared now.

Before storms hit, certified arborist Keith Wright of Davey Tree Services here in Raleigh said it’s best to try and remove weakened trees from your property.

“I always tell people at least once a year we should be on your property looking everything over and after every major storm event,” said Wright.

After Irma hit Florida, law enforcement put out an alert warning folks about scammers posing as tree removal contractors or FEMA inspectors who then charge people for services which are never rendered.

Wright says, “You should always ask for credentials. Don’t be in a hurry to get it done, and don’t ever pay ahead of your job.

He says both the Tree Care Industry Association and the International Association Of Arborists offer on-line data bases to help you find certified tree professionals in your area..

North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein offers more tips including:

  • Hire local companies with good reputations. Out-of-state businesses that travel to storm-damaged neighborhoods may not stay to finish their work.
  • Ask for references, check online reviews
  • Get multiple estimates

To make sure tree repair scammers “leaf you alone” here are some resources you can use.

This Link to Tree Care Industry Association will help you to find an accredited arborist.

International Association Of Arborists has this link to help you find a certified arborist or check a person’s credentials.

There is also this fact sheet about what to look for in an arborist.