MADIGAN WARNS RESIDENTS TO BE ON ALERT FOR FLOOD-RELATED REPAIR SCAMS
Chicago — Following this week’s heavy rainfall and resulting flooding in northern Illinois and the Chicago area, Attorney General Lisa Madigan today warned residents in impacted areas to be on alert for scammers looking to exploit homeowners and business owners who may need to repair flood damaged property.
Madigan cautioned Illinois residents that scammers often move quickly into communities to take advantage of people with damage to their homes or businesses. Madigan noted these “storm chasers” use the opportunity to pressure people into making quick and often expensive decisions about cleanup and construction work. Madigan also warned residents to the potential that scam artists may be operating as insurance adjusters or public adjusters.
“As residents assess damage from severe rain and flooding, it is important to remember that scam artists often target homeowners and businesses with repair scams,” Madigan said. “I encourage people to be cautious before hiring contractors they do not know, particularly if those individuals are soliciting door-to-door.”
While the rain has stopped, water levels are still rising in the northern suburbs, extending the opportunity for scammers to target residents. Lake County officials declared a state of emergency Thursday due to severe flooding, and the clean-up will continue for weeks.
Madigan said general contractors are not required by state law to be licensed, but municipalities may require permits. Home and business owners should check with their local governments for more information about permits or other local requirements. Insurance adjusters must also be licensed by the Illinois Department of Insurance, and roofers must be licensed by the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation.
Madigan encouraged local residents and business owners to call local law enforcement agencies and her office’s Consumer Fraud Hotline (1-800-386-5438 in Chicago) to report any suspicious activity.
Madigan offered the following tips to help protect families and businesses from dishonest contractors:
Madigan also reminded consumers that the Illinois Home Repair and Remodeling Act requires contractors to provide customers with written contracts for any repair or remodeling work costing more than $1,000. A contract must be signed by both the customer and the contractor. The law also requires contractors to carry at least the minimum amounts of insurance for property damage, bodily injury and improper home repair. Contractors also must provide consumers with an informational pamphlet entitled “Home Repair and Construction: Know Your Rights.”