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Lindeen: Scammers Operating in Billings After Hail Storm

Insurance commissioner urges Montanans to beware

May 23, 2014

HELENA – Montana Insurance Commissioner Monica J. Lindeen warned Billings and southeastern Montana residents Friday to be wary of "storm chasers," or out-of-the area contractors who solicit repair work from homeowners, sometimes doing shoddy work or committing insurance fraud.

"We always see storm chasers after destructive weather, but the reports we're hearing now are worse than usual," Lindeen said. "Homeowners need to know how to spot a potential scammer before hiring someone to do repairs."

Montanans should be aware of seemingly legitimate work crews who:

  • Come door to door and try to get you to sign something immediately.
  • Use high pressure sales tactics.
  • Make offers of a free roof or siding -- or offer a way around paying your insurance deductible. This is insurance fraud.
  • Have out-of-state tags on their vehicles or have out-of-state driver's licenses. You can and should ask to see a driver's license to verify identity.
  • Are unable to produce recent, local references or references from before the storm.
  • Are unable to produce a local supplier reference. Always check the references from a potential contractor's suppliers because if a supplier isn't paid in a timely fashion by a contractor, they can legally place a lien on your home.
  • Are unable to produce a contractor's license.
  • Ask to submit your insurance claim for you. Never allow a contractor to submit your insurance claim for you because your insurance company can only accept a claim from you – the customer.