Attorney General Warns of Flooding Scams
Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen is warning residents to be cautious of scammers wanting to take advantage of those repairing the damage from flooding. The Montana DOJ says it is highly likely fraudulent contractors posing as professionals will try making easy cash off of those affected.
AG Knudsen also is warning the scammers, reminding them the DOJ Division of Criminal Investigation will investigate suspected scams that carry big punishment terms.
For example, a man was sentenced to a total of 160 years (65 years inmate status followed by 95 years of probation) last year for his multi-county contractor schemes in Montana.
AG Knudsen had this to say about the potential for scams:
As homeowners and business owners begin to repair their properties following recent flooding, fraudsters will undoubtedly use this as an opportunity to prey on unsuspecting Montanans. Please, do your homework to avoid scams. Scammers who take advantage of Montanans will be investigated, prosecuted, and face the possibility of prison time.
Remember, before finding a contractor or starting any repair work, contact your home insurance company. Also, visit the DOJ "Choosing a Contractor" page at the button below.
The MT DOJ Office of Consumer Protection offers the following to avoid becoming a victim of contractor scams:
- Researching your project: know what the job involves and prepare a detailed list of the work to be done and the types and costs of materials that should be used;
- Getting the names of several contractors: friends and neighbors who have undertaken similar projects, trade associations, and hardware, building supply, and home improvement stores may be good sources of reputable contractors;
- Checking references: try to get at least three references from actual customers, not just people who know the contractor personally;
- Getting written bids on your job: get at least two or three written bids for your project; never accept a verbal estimate; and
- Comparing bids: check carefully to be sure each bid includes everything you want; remember, less reputable contractors may cut corners to lower their bids.
If you've been scammed, or want to report a scam, visit the MT DOJ Office of Consumer Protection website at the button below, or call 406-444-4500.