DETROIT – Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel is warning southeast Michigan residents facing damage from recent flooding to be on the alert for con artists looking to take advantage of victims desperate to quickly repair damage.
To help these residents avoid becoming a scam victim, she is sharing tips to avoid criminals who exploit emergency situations, hire a reputable contractor for flood repairs, and report possible price gouging.
"Disasters take an emotional, physical, and financial toll and, understandably, homeowners want to repair the damage and get back to a sense of normalcy,” said Nessel. “They need quick answers and quick solutions. Unfortunately, this is also when criminals and scam artists will travel to and target disaster sites to exploit otherwise careful consumers."
To avoid falling victim to con artists, Nessel first recommends these three steps:
• Don’t make any rash decisions. This is especially true if you are approached by anyone telling you they can fix your flood damage right away – but only if you accept their “help” right now. Legitimate home repair contractors and other service providers understand that you need time to do your homework.
• Keep Your Guard Up. Ask to see the ID of anyone who wants to enter your home or business and check them out with the governmental authority or the company they claim to be from. Avoid giving out your personal information. Some scam artists masquerade as safety inspectors or utility workers who say immediate work is required. City, state, and federal inspectors may verify damages, but they do not involve themselves in any part of the repair nor recommend or certify any contractor. Nor do they ask for or accept money.
• Beware of door-to-door solicitors. Reputable professionals in the industry rarely solicit door to door. Be especially wary of anyone who approaches you unsolicited and asks you to pay cash for their services or says they can perform your repairs at a discount with leftover supplies from another job.
If you have been the victim of a disaster-related scam, or if you would like to file a general consumer complaint, please contact the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division at 517-335-7599.