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AG Nessel Reissues Consumer Alerts in Response to Severe Weather Forecast

LANSING – In advance of the severe weather advisory affecting large parts of the Midwest, Attorney General Dana Nessel is reissuing her After the Disaster Scams and her Government Imposter Scams alerts to remind residents of the many ways scammers will try to take advantage of residents after a storm.

In addition to widespread rain, Michigan is expected to see thunderstorms, severe wind gusts and areas are in marginal risk for tornados. Severe weather such as the kind predicted to come can cause serious damage to homes. Nessel’s alert warns Michigan residents to beware of scam artists and price-gougers who will try to take advantage of desperate homeowners.

"Bad actors look for emergency situations to scam people out of their hard-earned money,” Nessel said. “Our Consumer Protection team remains committed to investigating complaints from anyone who believes someone is looking to take advantage of devastating situations.”

Residents are also encouraged to complete the Department of Attorney General’s Power Outage form to allow Nessel to advocate for consumers using more accurate numbers regarding the homes and businesses affected by outages. Nessel first created the form in 2022 in order to better understand the impact extended outages have on consumers and uses the feedback when filing comments with the Michigan Public Service Commission in response to rate increases.

“Consumer feedback is invaluable as we continue to advocate for consumers before the Michigan Public Service Commission,” Nessel said. “Changing Michigan weather should not correlate with expected and prolonged outages. Residents deserve reliable service and speedy restoration when outages occur."

To avoid falling victim to a disaster-related scam, Nessel recommends following these steps:

  • Breathe! Take some time to absorb what has happened, and don't make any rash decisions before doing your homework. This is especially true if you are approached by anyone telling you they can fix your home right away – but only if you accept their "help" right now. Legitimate home repair contractors understand you need time to do your homework and check them out before you pay them anything or sign any contracts.
  • Talk to your homeowner's insurance agent or company. Carefully review your homeowner's insurance policy to determine what damage may be covered and the amount of your deductible. Then be sure to contact your homeowner's insurance agent or company, writing down questions you have and the answers that you are provided, along with a list of whom you talked to and when. Knowing what your insurance will cover will help you to determine how much you are able to spend on repairs, and prioritize repairs based on safety and need.
  • Do your homework. Before hiring a home repair contractor, do your homework by following the tips found in the consumer alert linked above. Some of the tips include ensuring that the home repair contractor you've decided to hire is licensed, insured, and well-regarded by your friends and neighbors. Also, make sure you are comfortable with their complaint history (if one exists).
  • Get everything in writing, never pay in cash, and never pay in full upfront. Ensure that all promises, quotes, and expectations are put in writing in a contract that you will carefully review before signing. Pay for home repairs using a credit card because using credit cards provides you with added protection to dispute a charge if the repair is not completed. Finally, you should never pay for an entire home repair upfront! To ensure that all work is completed in accordance with the contract terms and your expectations, arrange to pay for only part of the work upfront and pay for the rest of the work once it has been completed to your satisfaction.

Storms sometimes result in power outages in the areas affected. This creates an opportunity for utility or government imposter scammers. Following a disaster, scammers often impersonate a utility company to convince consumers that a utility – like electricity – can be fixed sooner if they pay an additional fee.

When storms hit, residents may also receive calls from bad actors impersonating government officials who tell them they have been selected to receive government funding to assist with repairs, but to receive it, the person must share personal or banking information.

Scammers are now able to create authentic-looking 800 numbers that appear on your phone display. If you’re contacted by someone claiming to be with a utility company, take the following steps to verify their authenticity:

  • Ask for an estimated restoration time. Legitimate utility companies track their own crews and are able to provide customers with an idea of when service will be restored. If the caller provides an estimate, cross-check that with your utility company’s outage map.
  • If someone from a utility company leaves a message, don’t call back. Instead of dialing the number provided by the caller, locate contact information for that company on a recent utility bill and call to confirm that they contacted you in the first place.
  • Don’t provide payment information over the phone. Remember, in instances where service is lost, it’s the company’s responsibility to bring it back online. That never includes asking customers for additional payment.

To file a complaint with the Attorney General, or get additional information, contact:

Consumer Protection Team
P.O. Box 30213
Lansing, MI 48909
Fax: 517-241-3771
Toll-free: 877-765-8388
Online complaint form


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