LANSING, Mich. – In response to recent destructive flooding across the Western Upper Peninsula, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel is reissuing her recent alert to warn residents about severe weather-related scams.
Several UP counties are experiencing a rapid melting of snow caused by the rise in temperatures. The fast-moving waters have overwhelmed storm-water systems, burst dams, and caused washed-out roads. They have also resulted in failed culverts and embankments.
The conditions in these areas have created situations where some residents may experience property damage. Nessel wants to give them the tools they need to avoid falling victim to disaster-related scams.
She advises homeowners to:
- 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 upfront. 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 upfront! 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 upfront and pay for the rest of the work once it is complete to your satisfaction.
“Our hearts go out to the communities affected by the U.P. flooding,” Nessel said. “But we also want them to be prepared with information that can keep them from falling victim to bad actors who perpetrate weather-related scams. The Consumer Protection team in my office is here to help if you believe a business or individual is engaging in fraudulent behavior in response to the severe weather.”
Nessel notes that it is important to research contractors if home repairs are needed before paying for a project. She also wants to alert drivers to beware of water-damaged vehicles being sold on the used car market.
To file a complaint with the Attorney General, or get additional information, contact:
Consumer Protection Team
P.O. Box 30213
Lansing, MI 48909
Toll free: 877-765-8388
Online complaint form
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