LITTLE ROCK, AR (KAIT) – Severe weather in Arkansas can often bring devastation, not only from the storm but from con artist.
"Storm Chasers" are scammers that take advantage of storm victims by offering home-repair and debris-removal after severe storms.
Attorney General Dustin McDaniel offered these suggestions to help Arkansans with choosing legitimate contractors and avoid scammers:
- While it may be necessary to have repairs completed quickly, avoid door-to-door solicitors who promise "special" or "one-time" offers. Take some time to find reputable contractors and try to get at least three written estimates. Be wary of anyone who uses high-pressure sales tactics.
- Use a contractor you already know, or ask friends and family for references. Also, consider checking with the Better Business Bureau. Additionally, visit aclb.arkansas.gov to see if a contractor is licensed by the Arkansas Contractors Licensing Board.
- In the event of a large-scale storm, counties and cities may have their own cleanup efforts underway. Double-check with municipal officials if a contractor claims to be authorized by a city or county to clean up debris or tree limbs.
- Put everything in writing. Enter into contracts that detail exactly the work that is to be completed, any warranties or guarantees, and the costs involved. For consumers expecting to receive insurance proceeds to cover the cost of repairs, contact the insurance carrier directly rather than authorizing the contractor to negotiate with the insurance carrier.
- Never pay the entire cost of a project in advance. Paying one-third in advance, one-third halfway through the job and another third upon completion helps to assure that a project will be completed.
- Don't forget that, under Arkansas law, contracts resulting from a home-solicitation sale are generally required to include a buyer's right to cancel within three days after the contract is signed.
For more information about "storm chaser" scams or other consumer-related issues, visit the website of the Attorney General's Consumer ProtectionDivision, [http://www.gotyourbackarkansas.org%2C/]www.GotYourBackArkansas.org, or call the Attorney General's Consumer Protection Hotline at (800) 482-8982 or (501) 682-2341.