LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel has released a list of alerts warning residents of scammers that try to take advantage of the post-storm chaos and cleanup.
As severe weather swept through Michigan last night, scammers and bad-faith actors may take advantage of the confusion
Scammers will oftentimes pose as home repairmen or damage estimators and will claim that they can repair storm damage.
Nessel released the following list of tips on how to avoid being scammed:
Breathe! Take some time to absorb what has happened, and don’t make any rash decisions before doing your homework. This is especially true if you are approached by anyone telling you they can fix your home right away – but only if you accept their “help” right now. Legitimate home repair contractors understand you need time to do your homework and check them out before you pay them anything or sign any contracts.
Talk to your homeowner’s insurance agent or company. Carefully review your homeowner’s insurance policy to determine what damage may be covered and the amount of your deductible. Then be sure to contact your homeowner’s insurance agent or company, writing down questions you have and the answers that you are provided, along with a list of whom you talked to and when. Knowing what your insurance will cover will help you to determine how much you are able to spend on repairs, and prioritize repairs based on safety and need.
Do your homework. Do your homework before hiring a home repair contractor by following the tips found in the remainder of this Consumer Alert. Some of our tips include ensuring that the home repair contractor you’ve decided to hire is licensed, insured, well-regarded by your friends and neighbors, and you are comfortable with their complaint history (if one exists).
Get everything in writing, never pay in cash, and never pay in full up front. Ensure that all promises, quotes, and expectations are put in writing in a contract that you will carefully review before signing. Paying for a home repair using a credit card is recommended, because using credit cards provides you with added protection to dispute a charge if the repair is not completed. Finally, you should never pay for an entire home repair up front! To ensure that all work is completed in accordance with the contract terms and your expectations, arrange to pay for only part of the work up front and pay for the rest of the work once it is complete to your satisfaction.
Another common scam involves scammers posing as utility employees that threaten to disable a utility unless they are paid. These scammers often operate by phone.
To avoid being scammed by these scammers, ask for an estimated restoration time, do not call back their number if they leave a message (call the utility company instead) and do not provide personal information over the phone.