AG alert: Don’t let scam artists clean out wallet after storm damage
Tropical Storm Laura brought devastating weather to Arkansas and wreck havoc on our communities and neighboring states. As countless storm victims assess the damages, con artists see opportunities to take advantage of Arkansans who suffered property damage or losses. Vulnerable Arkansans should use caution when seeking a contractor or professional to complete repairs.
“Arkansans always come together after a natural disaster, but it is also common in bad situations to see bad actors,” said Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. “These bad actors prey on victims of severe weather to take advantage of the potentially urgent nature of storm damage repairs. I urge anyone who is seeking home and auto repairs to be cautious of potential scams that are common after storms.”
Attorney General Rutledge released the following tips to ensure consumers hire reputable contractors to complete the repairs:
Beware of door-to-door solicitors selling home-repair work. To find someone reputable, ask friends or family who have recently used a home-repair contractor or professional. Consider contacting the Arkansas Contractor’s Licensing Board to verify that the contractor is licensed and has not had any complaints filed against it.
Avoid any home-repair solicitor who asks for an upfront payment or who will not provide a written contract.
Get at least three written estimates. A reputable contractor or professional will never try to pressure to obtain business.
Obtain and check at least three references from the contractor or professional.
Check with the Attorney General’s office or the Better Business Bureau to find out if the company has a complaint history.
Obtain a written and detailed contract that includes the grade, quality, name brand and quantity of any materials to be used. The name and address of the contractor must be on the contract.
Avoid paying for the entire job up front. One-third paid in advance, one-third paid halfway through the job and one-third paid upon completion is a better plan, helping assure that the project will be completed. Never make the final payment until there has been an opportunity to inspect the work.
Remember that all contracts resulting from a home-solicitation sale generally must include a buyer’s right to cancel within three business days after the contract is signed.
For more information and tips to avoid scams and other consumer-related issues, contact the Arkansas Attorney General’s office at 800-482-8982 or visit ArkansasAG.gov.