‘Summer of Safety’ campaign focuses on reducing consumer risk, avoiding scammers

Campaign highlights TDCI’s mission and divisions 

NASHVILLE — As the final days of summer approach, the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance (TDCI) reminds Tennesseans that there’s never been a better time than today to renew their commitment to safety.

TDCI’s ongoing Summer of Safety consumer awareness campaign focuses on how Tennesseans can reduce risk by learning how to protect their loved ones from the risk of fires, avoid confusion when it comes to buying an insurance policy, spotting the signs of financial fraud and the importance of always utilizing licensed professionals.

As part of the Summer of Safety campaign, TDCI again urges Tennesseans to follow Gov. Bill Lee’s example and wear a cloth mask or face covering while practicing good social distancing habits to help slow the spread of COVID-19.

“During 2020, Tennessee families have continually shown their resilience, and I am immensely proud of the sacrifice and work that many have shown to help keep their families safe during this challenging year,” said TDCI Hodgen Mainda. “As we head into the final weeks of the summer of 2020, I remind Tennesseans to focus on our Safety of Summer tips in order to help reduce unnecessary risks for everyone.”

This summer, remember:

Outdoor fire safety

Summer is the perfect time to celebrate outdoors and practice social distancing. When spending times outdoors, remember:

  • When camping, build campfires at least 15 feet away from tent walls, shrubs or other materials that burn. Never leave the camping area without putting out the campfire.
  • When cooking outdoors, be sure the grill is placed away from the home, desk railings and out from under eaves or overhanging branches.
  • Lit citronella candles and torches should be placed outside out the reach of children and well away from flammable materials such as overhangs or branches. Ensure flames are completely extinguished before leaving the area or going to bed.
  • Homeowners should follow all outdoor burning safety precautions and plan ahead. Always observe burn bans and check with your local and state authorities on outdoor burning regulations.
  • Sky lanterns – which are unmanned airborne paper lanterns fueled by flame – can only be operated by licensed fireworks professionals. The general public cannot purchase or use sky lanterns, which are also commonly known as Chinese lanterns or wish lanterns. If sky lanterns are found in the possession of someone who does not have a professional license issued by the State Fire Marshal’s Office, sky lanterns can be confiscated and later destroyed.

Buying an insurance policy

Insurance coverage is a crucial risk-protection tool for consumers. Unfortunately, purchasing insurance can leave even the most experienced consumer feeling confused and uncertain. When buying an insurance policy, remember:

  • Before you buy, verify the license of an insurance agent and company. Visit our agent/producer resources page here.
  • Look up the complaint data for the company and review any potential disciplinary action that has been taken against that agent or company by visiting our website’s list of disciplinary actions.
  • Get quotes from multiple companies in order to get the best deal. Is someone pressuring you to buy a policy? Walk away! You could be dealing with a scammer.
  • Don’t just consider the premium price. Make sure the policy covers what you want protected. 
  • Still have questions or need to file a complaint? Call 1-800-342-4029 or visit tn.gov/commerce for more information.

Investor tips

Scam artists and bad actors may use the COVID-19 pandemic for their personal gain. Before investing, remember:

  • If a stranger asks for money, proceed with caution. Swindlers can take advantage of your good manners.
  • Make sure you know who you are investing with. You can ensure a broker-dealer or broker-dealer agent is registered here.
  • Beware of salespeople who prey upon your fears. Fear can blind your good judgment. Only invest when you have all the facts and feel comfortable.
  • Securities offerings never have “guaranteed returns” or “safe investments. Remember: “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”
  • Don’t be embarrassed to report fraud or abuse. Every day you delay reporting fraud or abuse is another day the scammer is spending your money and finding new victims.

Using licensed professionals

Using a licensed professional helps ensure you’re working with an individual or company who has met state standards for education and training. TDCI licenses more than 200,000 Tennesseans in their professions and businesses from contractors to cosmetologists to funeral directors.

  • Before hiring a professional, consumers should first verify that the individual is properly licensed to work in Tennessee. At https://verify.tn.gov/ you can view the status of a professional’s license, how long the individual or company has been licensed, when their license expires and additional helpful information.
  • Consumers are encouraged to file complaints with the Department of Commerce and Insurance when they feel they have been the victim of an unfair or deceptive business practice, witness unlicensed activity or see suspected misconduct or other violations of respective law or rules.
  • Still have questions? Our customer service team can help. Visit our Customer Service Center, use our online chat feature or call us at (615) 741-3449.

For more information, visit tn.gov/commerce today.

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