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For Immediate Release
September 18, 2003
Contact: Sean Caine, 410-576-6357
scaine@oag.state.md.us

ATTORNEY GENERAL: CONSUMERS SHOULD BE WARY OF STORM-RELATED SCAMS

Maryland 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.

He 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 business.

• 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.

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