INDIANAPOLIS – Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill this week launched his new consumer protection campaign aimed at educating Hoosiers and safeguarding them from fraudulent business practices in the wake of severe weather that leaves homes, vehicles or other property damaged.
Originally debuted in April, “Double check before you write a check” is a public outreach initiative aimed at informing Hoosiers and protecting them from individuals posing as roofing, tree-removal and window-replacement companies, among other types of restoration and repair businesses that target residents after severe weather damages property.
In this, the first week of May, it is vital that the office educates Hoosiers about the financial risks that present themselves after a natural disaster, Hill said.
The threat of severe weather will only increase as the summer months approach. The Consumer Protection Division (CPD) of the Office of the Indiana Attorney General wants to ensure Hoosiers are informed and prepared after severe weather has damaged property. Throughout the next four months, the Office of the Indiana Attorney General will revisit its “Double check before you write a check” strategy, presenting tips and statistics – among other information – provided by the CPD.
In the aftermath of storms that leave destruction in their paths, property owners are vulnerable — making perfect targets for scammers pretending to offer help cleaning up wreckage and making necessary repairs. Many people will attempt to reach out and offer a helping hand. With this comes the likelihood that restoration or home repair companies – some legitimate, some not – will also try to contact those affected the most.
“When severe weather rips through Indiana, the damage can be significant,” Hill said. “In the worst cases, the devastation can be heartbreaking. Many Hoosiers face the stress of out-of-pocket costs to make repairs to personal property. No Hoosier should face the additional nightmare of becoming the victim of a scam.
“This spring and summer, I strongly urge all Hoosiers to double check a company’s name, reputation, history and authenticity before writing a check to a person claiming to represent such a business.”
Hill advised Hoosiers to do their due diligence and avoid letting the emotional toll of the situation influence their decisions about repairing or replacing what is damaged or lost. It is often wise to be skeptical of anyone immediately offering their services.
Hill offered several tips to Hoosiers: Avoid agreeing to any repair or restoration work on the spot during initial contact with someone offering services – this includes contracts. Avoid signing any legally binding agreements without first gathering information and researching a business being represented. Obtain information about the individual offering his or her services. Research the company the individual claims to represent. Look for signs of credibility such as an official website. Seek reviews and testimonials from former customers.
“The best decision is an informed decision,” Hill said. “Double check before you write a check.”
Hoosiers are encouraged to contact the Consumer Protection Division of the Office of the Indiana Attorney General if they believe they have been scammed, or suspect someone may be trying to scam them after a severe weather event. You can reach the CPD by visiting IndianaConsumer.com or calling 1-800-382-5516.
SOURCE: News release from the Office of Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill