September 18, 2003
Sean Caine, 410-576-6357
GENERAL: CONSUMERS SHOULD BE WARY OF STORM-RELATED SCAMS
Attorney J. Joseph Curran, Jr., is warning Marylanders to beware
of home repair scams and other possible consumer fraud which may
surface in the wake of Hurricane Isabel.
"Unfortunately, con artists often try to take advantage of
those whose lives have been affected by storm damage and other disasters,"
Curran said. "In many cases, con artists travel state to state,
disaster to disaster, looking for victims of storms."
Curran said that homeowners whose homes have been damaged should
be wary of offers from home contractors who solicit door-to-door
after a storm, especially those who say they will accept only cash
payments or pressure the homeowner for an immediate decision.
advised homeowners to:
Check with their insurance agents to find out the procedures
for making a claim.
Only deal with contractors who have an established local
Check to see if the contractor is licensed by the Maryland
Home Improvement Commission by calling (410) 230-6309. You can also
ask the Commission about the contractor's complaint history.
Curran said another possible storm-related scam is the solicitation
for phony relief efforts. He said that consumers should be aware
that fraudulent solicitors may use an organization name similar
to well-known charitable organizations. Consumers can check that
a charity is registered with the State, as required, by calling
the Maryland Secretary of State's Charities Division at (410) 974-5534
or 1-800-825-4510. They should avoid cash donations and make checks
payable to the organization, not to the individual soliciting.