Officials remind residents to practice “Summer of Safety” outdoors

As the final days of summer approach, the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance reminds Tennesseans 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 Governor Bill Lee’s example and wear a cloth mask or face covering while practicing social distancing habits to help slow the spread of COVID-19.

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, deck railings, and out from under eaves or overhanging branches.

*Lit citronella candles and torches should be placed outside 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.

*Look up the complaint data for the company and review any potential disciplinary action that has been taken against that agent or company.

*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.

*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 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 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 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.