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January 7, 2019

MADIGAN ANNOUNCES SETTLEMENT WITH DUPAGE COUNTY HOME REPAIR BUSINESS FOR MISLEADING AND DEFRAUDING HOMEOWNERS

Chicago — Attorney General Lisa Madigan today announced a nearly $1 million settlement with a Downers Grove, Ill.-based home improvement business for deceiving hundreds of residents into paying for home repair work they did not realize they agreed to and may not have wanted.

Madigan entered the settlement in Cook County Circuit Court with American Dream Home Improvement Inc. (ADHI) to resolve allegations that the company deceived homeowners into hiring ADHI to do roof and home repairs following storms. The settlement will provide restitution to Illinois consumers who have filed complaints with Madiganís office or who file a complaint with the office by April 8, 2019.

Madigan sued ADHI in 2017 alleging ADHI sales representatives went door-to-door, usually following severe weather, offering free property inspections, home repair services and public adjusting services. In the lawsuit, Madigan alleged that ADHIís salespeople frequently pressured homeowners into signing forms to authorize free damage inspections when ADHI actually intended to enforce the documents as contracts for home repair work.

Madiganís lawsuit alleged that ADHIís forms were misleading, contained contradictory information and did not include required disclosures such as the work to be performed, parts and materials, total cost or charges, the start or completion dates and a Notice of Cancellation as required by state law. Many homeowners also were unaware that the forms included language leaving them responsible for paying additional costs above what their insurance would cover. According to Madigan, many people were unaware of the details of the forms they had signed, or that ADHI would begin work without homeownersí consent. In addition, the lawsuit alleged that residents who proceeded with the home repairs later contacted Madiganís office to report shoddy or incomplete work.

ďFor too many homeowners in search of property inspections and home repair services after storms, working with American Dream was nothing but a nightmare,Ē Madigan said. ďThis settlement will provide restitution to people who were scammed by American Dreamís deceptive and aggressive sales tactics.Ē

Under the settlement, ADHI must pay into a restitution fund that Madiganís office will distribute to homeowners that file complaints with her Consumer Fraud Bureau and who qualify for relief. The settlement also provides for restitution to consumers who have already filed complaints with Madiganís office, and prohibits ADHI from collecting money from consumers who filed complaints with Madiganís office.

The settlement also prohibits ADHI from engaging in the following deceptive business practices:

  • Leading homeowners to believe they are authorizing a free home inspection, when they are really signing a contract;
  • Leading homeowners to believe it is a licensed public adjuster when it is not;
  • Failing to ensure contracts include prices, start dates, materials, and a summary of work to be completed;
  • Failing to inform residents they have right to cancel a contract within three business days;
  • Failing to make repairs when the completed work fails inspection;
  • Failing to inform homeowners whether additional charges are needed to bring the properties up to local building codes;
  • Charging consumers for work it has not completed and has no intention of completing; and
  • Engaging in harassing collection activities at the consumersí homes.

Consumers who wish to be considered for a restitution payment should file a complaint with Madiganís Consumer Fraud Bureau by April 8. Complaint forms are available on Madiganís website or by calling her Consumer Fraud Hotline in Chicago at 1-800-386-5438. Consumers should include any documentation they have relating to their interaction with ADHI.

Assistant Attorneys General Janice Parker and Tracy Walsh are handling the case for Madiganís Consumer Fraud Bureau.

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