Attorney General Lisa Madigan is warning Illinois citizens of potential scams and cons looking to exploit flood-impacted residents and businesses. Madigan says that these new scams are pressuring people into making quick and expensive decisions about cleanup and construction work. Keep in mind that general contractors do not have to be liscened by state law, but many municipalities do require permits. Check with your local government agencies for other requirements. Madigan also gives some tips to help avoid these scams:
- 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) 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, Chicago or Metro East 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 for the best deal. 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.
- 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.
- Ask to see required state and local permits and licenses. Insurance adjusters and roofers must be licensed by state agencies. If the contractor does not have a required license, or if the name on the license doesn’t match the name on the contractor’s business card or truck, that should raise a red flag. Please visit the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation’s website to search licenses.
Additionally, according to state law, all contracting work exceeding $1,000 must come with a contract to be signed by both the contractor and the customer. For more tips, contact the Consumer Fraud Hotlines at one of the numbers below -
Chicago - 1-800-386-5438
Springfield - 1-800-243-0618
Carbondale - 1-800-243-0607