Due to the Aquidneck Island Gas Outage incident affecting thousands of residents in Newport and Middletown, Rhode Island Attorney General Peter Neronha issued the following press release this evening reminding affected residents of their rights and advising them to be aware of possible fraud and abuse that may take place in the wake of such emergencies.
To help Rhode Islanders as they recover from this gas outage emergency, Attorney General Neronha offers the following tips:
• If someone attempts to gain access to your home claiming to be an employee or contractor of a utility company, or an insurance company representative, ask for company identification. Utility workers should carry identification and should not hesitate to show it to you. When in doubt, contact National Grid or the insurance company to verify the identity of the worker.
• Beware of online or unsolicited calls or emails from individuals posing as government officials, insurance adjustors or utility company representatives. Do not provide personal information (such as social security number, date of birth, etc.) to anyone unsolicited callers.
• Talk to your insurance company. Read your insurance policy and contact the Department of Business Regulation/Insurance Division at (401) 462-9532 if you have questions or concerns about insurance issues.
• Keep all receipts and notes detailing any losses you believe are associated with the outage, along with photographs if applicable. If you have suffered a loss related to the outage and need to file a claim with your insurance company or National Grid, such information will most likely be required.The National Grid website has identified what it will reimburse as a loss associated with the outage, the claims form and an email address for filing it: https://www.nationalgridus.com/Aquidneck-Island
• Businesses are prohibited from increasing prices of any item immediately prior to a during a declared state of emergency. If you think you have been a victim of price-gouging, contact our Consumer Protection Unit at (401) 274-4400.
• While there may be a time to think about retaining a lawyer to help, a good place to start is to go through the claims process with National Grid and/or your homeowner’s insurance.
• If you have a complaint pertaining to utility services, please contact the Division of Public Utilities Consumer Division at (401) 780-9700.
• If you believe you have been the victim of consumer fraud, please contact the Consumer Protection Unit at the Attorney General’s Office at (401) 274-4400.
In the event of damage to your home or property requiring the services of a contractor:
• Verify the contractor is licensed and insured with the R.I. Contractors’ Registration and Licensing Board atwww.crb.ri.govor (401) 921-1590. The license of electricians, plumbers, etc., may be verified with the R.I. Department of Labor & Training’s Professional Regulations Division atYou can also visit the Consumer Protection section of our web site here.
• Obtain all quotes, estimates and work details in writing.
• Request references and check them before agreeing to hire anyone.
• Be wary of salespeople going door-to-door offering low-cost services or free inspections.
• Always pay by check made out to the business or with a credit card; not with cash. Never pay large sums in advance.
If you are a landlord or a tenant and have questions, please refer to the R.I. Landlord Tenant Handbook athttp://ohcd.ri.gov/freq-requested/documents/rilthandbook-2007.pdf.</a>%0D%0A”>