FacebookTwitterCopy LinkEmail INDIANAPOLIS – Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill today announced a new campaign aimed at protecting Hoosiers from fraudulent business practices in the wake of severe weather that leaves homes, vehicles or other property damaged.“Double check before you write a check” is the latest consumer protection strategy from the Office of the Indiana Attorney General, safeguarding Hoosiers from individuals posing as roofing, tree-removal and window-replacement companies, among other types of restoration and repair businesses.“When severe weather rips through Indiana, the damage can be significant,” Hill said. “In the worst cases, the devastation can be heartbreaking. Many Hoosiers face the stress of out-of-pocket costs to make repairs to personal property. No Hoosier should face the additional nightmare of becoming the victim of a scam.“This spring and summer, I strongly urge all Hoosiers to double check a company’s name, reputation, history and authenticity before writing a check to a person claiming to represent such a business.”In the aftermath of storms that leave destruction in their paths, property owners are vulnerable — making perfect targets for scammers pretending to offer help cleaning up wreckage and making necessary repairs. Many people will attempt to reach out and offer a helping hand. With this comes the likelihood that restoration or home repair companies – some legitimate, some not – will also try to contact those affected the most.Hill advised Hoosiers to do their due diligence and avoid letting the emotional toll of the situation influence their decisions about repairing or replacing what is damaged or lost. It is often wise to be skeptical of anyone immediately offering their services.Hill offered several tips to Hoosiers: Avoid agreeing to any repair or restoration work on the spot during initial contact with someone offering services – this includes contracts. Avoid signing any legally binding agreements without first gathering information and researching a business being represented. Obtain information about the individual offering his or her services. Research the company the individual claims to represent. Look for signs of credibility such as an official website. Seek reviews and testimonials from former customers.“The best decision is an informed decision,” Hill said. “Double check before you write a check.”The Consumer Protection Division (CPD) of the Office of the Indiana Attorney General receives complaints every year when severe weather causes damage. The most common complaints are those against “storm chasers” — people who show up after severe weather events.Storm chasers often offer to come back and make repairs to damage that doesn’t require such repairs or doesn’t exist at all. A common example is a storm chaser who tells a resident their roof needs repaired or replaced when in fact it isn’t even damaged. The storm chasers will tell the resident a cost and offer to come back and do the work if a portion or all of the cost is paid up front prior to any repairs taking place. Once the consumer has paid, the scammer does not return to complete the job.In 2016, the CPD received 16 storm chaser complaints.The failure to perform a contract is a complaint received by the CPD that is similar to storm chaser scams. In this scenario, a person offering a service or the service of a company will agree to complete repairs that are actually needed — such as replacing the siding or windows on a house. They will request a portion or all of the cost up front and even provide a contract for the agreed-upon repairs and cost. However, once the scammer receives the payment up front, he or she never returns — and the consumer is left without the money they paid or the repairs they needed.In 2016, the CPD received 21 failure-to-perform-the-contract complaints.The most common scam reported after severe weather events in 2016 was the failure to complete a contract. In this situation, a consumer agrees to the necessary work with a person or the company that person claims to represent — and a portion or all of the cost is paid up front, prior to the repairs. The person will come back to the residence or property and start the agreed-upon repairs or restoration. However, in this scenario, after the work is started, the person or company paid to complete the work does not return, leaving the consumer with repairs that are still needed and no money to have them completed.In 2016, the CPD received 70 failure-to-complete-the-contract complaints.Finally, beware of contractors who present contracts that permit them to keep a portion of your insurance money if they negotiate with your insurance company, but then you decide not to use the contractor to perform repairs. The contractor often presents this as a “liquidated damages” or similarly-worded provision. The Division has seen contractors including this type of provision in their contracts and then using it to justify keeping a significant portion of insurance proceeds, even when they are not selected by the homeowner to perform repairs. Homeowners do not have to agree to these terms. Exercise your control over who performs your repairs and how they are paid. Be ready to refuse to do business with any contractor whose contract terms you do not like.Hoosiers are encouraged to contact the Consumer Protection Division of the Office of the Indiana Attorney General if they believe they have been scammed, or suspect someone may be trying to scam them after a severe weather event. You can reach the CPD by visiting IndianaConsumer.com or calling 1-800-382-5516.
“We want to restore democracy there,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said last week, walking just to the edge of declaring that regime change is the goal. “We think the Iranian people want that same thing.” – Advertisement – At Daily Kos on this date in 2018—What does Secretary of State Pompeo mean by ‘restore democracy’ in Iran? – Advertisement – In 2014 when he was just a Kansas congressman, Mike Pompeo, now secretary of state and one of the most pugnacious ideologues of the neoconservative club, bragged that it would take only “2000 [bombing] sorties to destroy the Iranian nuclear capacity.” Last month, he wrote in Foreign Affairs his view of how the reimposition of sanctions are meant to bring Iran to its knees and do Washington’s bidding, or be toppled by a populace disgruntled by a smashed economy. Colin H. Kahl, co-director of the Center for International Security and Cooperation, and a former national security and defense official in the Obama administration, dismantled what he calls Pompeo’s “dangerous delusion” in a subsequent essay in Foreign Affairs. I keep sensing an undercurrent of despair when talking to liberal partisans about the election, a sigh that beating Trump is not enough but all that can be done. Yes, Democrats are only an even-money shot, at best, to flip the Senate. And yes, even if they succeed, Mitch “Grim Reaper” McConnell can obstruct the majority with the filibuster, and it would not be up to the next president, but the 50th senator ideologically, someone like Joe Manchin or Kyrsten Sinema, to agree to change the Senate rules to eliminate the 60-vote threshold for legislation. (There’s always budget reconciliation, but that limited path goes through the same conservaDems.)But this reality does not have to inspire progressive anguish. Anyone telling you that a Democratic victory next November would merely signal four years of endless gridlock hasn’t thought about the possibilities laid out in this issue. And if you doubt the opportunity for strong executive action, let me direct your attention to Donald Trump.MAKE NO MISTAKE: Trump is an autocrat, more than willing to break the law to realize his campaign promises. His invocation of inherent, extreme executive power, egged on chiefly by Attorney General William Barr, is in fact dangerous, as former Representative Brad Miller lays out for us later in this issue. Trump has asserted the right to ignore Congress’s oversight function, reinterpret laws based on his own preferences, hide information from lawmakers and the public, promise pardons before illegal actions take place, appoint acting heads of federal agencies without advice and consent from the Senate, and raise the specter of emergency to follow through on his campaign promises.But in a significant number of cases, Trump’s pathway has sprung from a simple proposition: When Congress gives the executive branch authority, the president, you know, can actually use it.[…]THREE OTHER ARTICLES WORTH READINGWide Awake, by Rebecca Traister. The past four years have birthed a progressive movement so extraordinary it just might survive the forces that threaten its extinction.The Right-Wing Violence Trump Has Encouraged Has Deep Roots in American History, By Dolores Janiewski and Chad Pearson. The far-right violence that Donald Trump has stoked has deep roots in US history. Kicking him from office won’t change that — but it would deal a blow to right-wing vigilantism. The South Has Already Changed, by Adam Harris. Jaime Harrison lost to Lindsey Graham but expanded Democrats’ vision of what’s possible in the Deep South.TOP COMMENTSQUOTATION“In a democracy, someone who fails to get elected to office can always console himself with the thought that there was something not quite fair about it.” ~~Thucydides, History of the Peloponnesian War (411 BCE)TWEET OF THE DAYxNow seems like a good time to remind Trump appointees that destroying federal records is a crime. And it’ll be easier than you think to prove you did it.— Walter Shaub (@waltshaub) November 4, 2020BLAST FROM THE PAST- Advertisement – Certainly, a truly democratic, socially liberal, non-aggressive Iranian government that puts a high value on human rights would be a welcome change from the brutal one now in charge. While Iran has some of the trappings of democracy, it’s a profoundly constrained one riven by corruption that favors the clerical elite, holds large numbers of political prisoners, engages in torture and other brutality, and has a long record of human rights abuses, one of the targets being gay people. It was obvious from the election protests in 2009 that many Iranians would like to see a different kind of government. For each one of the thousands of protesters who dared confront Iran’s pernicious religious zealots in the street, for every Neda Agha-Soltan murdered by government henchmen, there no doubt were dozens silently cheering them on from home but fearful to join the opposition. They deserve better.As do the Saudis. Yet neither Pompeo nor Trump are making any noises about sanctioning the royal autocracy of that kingdom. It doesn’t take any imagination to figure out why. David E. Sanger at The New York Times reports: