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Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul
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May 14, 2019

ATTORNEY GENERAL RAOUL WARNS RESIDENTS TO BE ON ALERT FOR STORM-RELATED REPAIR SCAMS

Chicago — Following heavy rain and flooding throughout Illinois, Attorney General Kwame Raoul today warned Illinois residents to be on alert for scammers looking to exploit homeowners and business owners who may be in need of repairs from storm-related damage.

Earlier this month, a state disaster proclamation was issued for 34 counties related to flooding, and residents in communities along the Mississippi and Illinois rivers have been asked to prepare for possible evacuations due to floods. Raoul cautioned Illinois residents that scammers often move quickly into communities to take advantage of people with damage to their homes or businesses. Raoul noted these “storm chasers” use the opportunity to pressure people into making quick and often expensive decisions about cleanup and construction work. Raoul also warned residents that scam artists may be operating as insurance adjusters or public adjusters.

“Once the flood waters recede, residents and business owners will begin the physically and emotionally difficult task of assessing damage and starting cleanup. That is also when scam artists will try to cash in on the damage,” Raoul said. “I encourage Illinoisans to exercise caution before hiring contractors they do not know and to be particularly wary of individuals who solicit door-to-door.”

Raoul said general contractors are not required by state law to be licensed, but municipalities may require permits or have other local requirements. Home and business owners should check with their local governments for more information about permits or other local requirements before hiring anyone. Insurance adjusters must be licensed by the Illinois Department of Insurance, and roofers must be licensed by the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR).

“People can verify they are doing business with a licensed roofer by visiting www.idfpr.com and using our License Look-Up page,” said Acting IDFPR Secretary Deborah Hagan.

Raoul offered the following tips to help protect families and businesses from dishonest contractors:

  • In the case of disaster repair, you have an additional right to cancel. If your insurance carrier denies coverage, you have the right to cancel the contract within five days of when your insurance carrier denies your coverage.
  • Be wary of contractors who go door to door to offer repair services. Ask for recommendations from people you know and trust and, whenever possible, use established local contractors.
  • Call the Attorney General’s Consumer Fraud Hotline (1-800-386-5438 in Chicago, 1-800-243-0618 in Springfield, and 1-800-243-0607 in Carbondale) to check out a contractor and to learn if any complaints have been filed against a particular business.
  • Visit the Better Business Bureau’s central Illinois, St. Louis or Chicago websites to see if a business is a member and whether any complaints have been lodged against it.
  • Even if there is a need to act quickly, shop around. Get written estimates from multiple contractors, and don’t be rushed into a deal.
  • Get all of the terms of a contract in writing, and obtain a copy of the signed contract.
  • Never make full payment until all the work has been completed to your satisfaction.
  • Never pay in cash.
  • Be aware that you have the right to cancel a contract within three business days if you signed it based on the contractor’s visit to your home.
  • Ask to see required state and local permits and licenses. Insurance adjusters and roofers must be licensed by state agencies. If the roofer or adjuster does not have a required license, or if the name on the license doesn’t match the name on the business card or truck, that should raise a red flag. Please visit the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation’s website to search for roofing licenses. Contact the Department of Insurance at (866) 445-5364 to verify that the public adjuster is licensed and in good standing.

Raoul 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: Know Your Rights.”

Raoul encouraged local residents and business owners to call local law enforcement agencies and his office’s Consumer Fraud Hotline (1-800-386-5438 in Chicago, 1-800-243-0618 in Springfield, and 1-800-243-0607 in Carbondale) to report any suspicious activity.

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