The recent wildfires in the state have sparked a number of scams, according to Colorado Attorney General John Suthers.
The scams range from fake charity collections to home repair and construction fraud. Consumers may also have problems with their insurance companies or mortgage lenders. Any problems should be reported to the AG’s consumer complaint line at 800-222-444 or by filing an online report.
People are reporting receiving robocall solicitations asking to donate money or coming to their doors collecting for relief agencies. Reputable organizations do not solicit charitable contributions this way. People should donate directrly to known organizations.
“We need people to report scams that prey on their good intentions so we can stop these practices,” said Suthers.
Another common problem involves home repair fraud. After natural disasters, scam artists posing as door-to-door repairmen, contactors or handymen will pressure consumers into signing up for alleged great deals on home repairs. Check with the Better Business Bureau and ask for written contracts and references.
“People should be skeptical of anyone who shows up at their doorstep offering discounted home repairs and never enter into contracts based on a door-to-door sales pitch. If a deal sounds too good to probably is,” be true, it he said.
Insurance fraud takes many forms and most insurance companies employ or contract for their own adjusters to evaluate property damage and assist in filing claims.
However, in Colorado, consumers can also hire their own adjusters to help negotiate insurance payments. Some unscrupulous “public” adjusters will charge an exorbitant fee for their services and then disappear. Others may refer homeowners to disreputable contractors from whom they get a kickback leaving the homeowner with shoddy repairs.
“Consumers should not be fooled by these con artists who gain their trust and personal information like Social Security and credit card numbers to then commit identity theft,” Suthers said.
Colorado’s Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA) is also available to assist with scams involving insurance claims. Consumers may contact DORA by calling 303-894-7490 or 800-930-3745 or going online.
Faced with significant damage or loss of their homes, consumers sometimes overlook their on-going mortgage payments – or with so many new and unexpected expenses, can no longer afford to make those payments. Consumers should immediately contact their mortgage lender or mortgage servicer to avoid defaulting on their loan and to avoid foreclosure.
“My office is prepared to offer assistance to victims of these devastating fires if they have trouble working with their lenders or servicers while their insurance claims are being resolved,” said Suthers.