How Detroit flood victims can avoid being ripped off by scammers

Now that the waters have started to recede and are being furiously pumped out of Detroit, the next round of problems for victims comes in the forms of men and women looking to capitalize on other people's misfortune.

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel says that the floods have been replaced by another flood: scammers. And they're preying on people in need of basement repairs.

"The last thing you need right now is to get ripped off by some scammer or some con artist," Nessel said.

Nessel said they've already received calls from would-be victims who are seeing some big red flags.

"They are going to come out to you and make promises that they can do work on your household but you gotta do it right away and you gotta pay in cash," she said.

How to avoid being scammed on basement repairs

Instead of taking the first person offering to do the job, Nessel said there a few quick steps you should take.

  • Get a few quotes from different businesses
  • Check the company's standing with the Better Business Bureau
  • Once you hire someone, get a receipt in writing
  • Never pay full price up front -  pay only 1/3 of the total estimate
  • Use a credit card, if you can

"Do not pay cash. And don’t do something weird if they ask you to pay through gift cards or some other bizarre way of payment. You should only be paying with a credit card, if you're able to do so, because, remember, if there is a problem you can get your money back," Nessel said.

On Monday, FOX 2 met several people who had their cars towed out of the flood damage in Detroit. A total of 700 cars were towed in the Metro Detroit area and many were outraged at how much they were charged to get their vehicle back. Nessel said most of this comes down to the work required to pull their cars from the water.

"I know people are going to be a lot of people who are going to hear the price and are going to wonder is this an appropriate fee I’m paying  for my vehicle?" Nessel said. Did they have to get divers in to go underneath and hook it up or was it just on the side of the road? These are things a vehicle owner needs to know."

The attorney general's office provided a list of maximum tow rates based on the circumstances that tow companies must follow.

How much it costs to have your car towed

  • Basic road service: $62 plus the cost of fuel
  • Basic tow rate: $120 within 5 miles
  • Recovery off the road: $200
  • Excessive winching beyond the road: $1/foot
  • Uprighting a vehicle: $75
  • Mileage over 5 miles: $4.25/mile
  • Indoor storage: $40/day
  • Outdoor storage: $20/day
  • Hook and drop fee: $50 + $55 if dolly is used
  • Motorcycle rate: $195
  • Dolly charge: $45
  • Additional labor per person: $95/hour

The costs can add up quickly so it may have cost more for drivers whose cars were stranded in the water.

For a full breakdown of the costs, visit the state's website here.