Indiana AG: Homeowners should be way of home-repair scams

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (ADAMS) – Attorney General Curtis Hill is warning Hoosiers to beware “storm chaser” scams in the wake of severe weather.

“Storm chasers” are home-repair contractors who show up in neighborhoods after thunderstorms, tornadoes, floods or other weather events to sell their services. Some of these individuals urge consumers to immediately sign contracts with their companies, often claiming homeowners must act quickly to get the best possible pricing. As part of their pitch, they often promise to assist consumers in negotiations with insurance companies at little to no out-of-pocket cost to customers. Some companies may seek immediate down-payments for future work.

While some contractors showing up in storm-ravaged areas to market services are legitimate and reputable businesses, others are fly-by-night operations that perform sub-quality work or, worse, scammers who fail to perform the work at all after receiving a homeowner’s money.

“When storms hit Indiana communities, the damage can be significant,” Attorney General Hill said. “Many homeowners face the stress of out-of-pocket costs to make repairs to personal property. No Hoosier should face the additional nightmare of becoming a victim of fraud. 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.”

Attorney General Hill offered several tips to Hoosiers:

  • Avoid agreeing to any repair or restoration work on the spot during initial contact with someone offering services.
  • Avoid signing any contracts or other legally binding agreements without first gathering information and researching a business being represented.
  • Work with your insurance agent yourself rather than turning over communication with your insurance agent to a contractor. Do not sign away this prerogative.
  • Obtain information about the individual offering his or her services.
    • Research any company an 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,” Attorney General Hill said.

If you believe you have been scammed — or suspect someone is trying to scam you — contact the Office of the Indiana Attorney General. You can file a complaint by visiting www.in.gov/attorneygeneral/. If you have questions you need answered by phone, you may call the office at 1-800-382-5516.