Mason County Emergency Management is warning residents to watch out for scam artists following recent severe storms

September 4, 2018

Watch Out for Scam Artists, Price Gouging

Mason County Emergency Management is warning residents to watch out for scam artists who may try to take advantage of disaster survivors after the recent severe storms.

Residents should be cautious of door-to-door solicitors who hand out flyers, offer services or promise to speed up the insurance or contracting process. Scam artists often travel to and target disaster sites to take advantage of disaster survivors who are desperate to repair damage right away and return to a sense of normalcy.

Be skeptical of people promising immediate clean-up and debris removal. Some may demand payment up-front for work they never do, quote outrageous prices, or simply lack the skills, licenses, and insurance to legally do the work.

“When contracting services after an emergency or disaster, you need to be cautious not to be taken advantage of by scam artists,” said Coordinator Elizabeth Reimink. “Unfortunately, natural disasters often bring out con artists, scammers and those looking to make a quick dollar by taking advantage of disaster survivors and others willing to help.”

Consider the following when hiring a contractor after a disaster:

Ask a contractor to provide their license and certificate of insurance once they are on your property. Go to www.michigan.gov/bcclicense and www.michigan.gov/statelicensesearch to verify state license information.Hire known and recommended repair companies.Get at least three estimates from different companies.Get all agreements in writing that state exactly what work will be done.If a contractor tells you certain work is covered by your insurance, call your provider to confirm.Make a full payment only when terms of the contract are met.

Individuals are also encouraged to be careful when being solicited for services by phone or email. If the deal being offered is too good to be true, it is probably fraudulent.

Price Gouging

Under the Michigan Consumer Protection Act, a retailer may not charge a price that is “grossly in excess of the price at which similar property or services are sold.” Consumers should be aware of prices and report any business that appears to be charging grossly excessive prices for necessary supplies, such as water, ice, plywood, gas and generators.

If consumers are concerned that a retailer may be engaging in behavior that violates the Consumer Protection Act, they are encouraged to contact the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division at 1-877-765-8388 or file an online complaint at www.michigan.gov/agcomplaints.

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