The Illinois Attorney General’s Office is cracking down on “storm chasers” posing as contractors who bilk homeowners out of large deposits and then do shoddy work or skip out on the jobs before they are finished—or, in some cases, even begun.
Attorney General Lisa Madigan this week—after the state faces a slew of tornadoes—filed lawsuits against four companies that allegedly defrauded customers who handed over insurance checks and cash for needed repairs to roofs and home exteriors or for interior renovations that were never completed. In one case, she accused a company of damaging a customer’s home in an effort to drive up insurance proceeds.
She said the cases “should serve as a warning” to homeowners who may be targeted by home-repair “scammers who quickly move into communities” after storms. The so-called “storm chasers” pressure homeowners into paying up front and making impulsive decisions about cleanup and construction.
The crackdown is also a warning to unscrupulous contractors who engage in high-pressure and often illegal tactics to drum up business after a weather catastrophe. And for legitimate contractors, the action offers them fodder for educating potential clients about the benefits of working with licensed home-improvement professionals who have local references, insist on signed contracts, and do not collect final payments until their work is finished.