Arkansas Attorney General Gives Tips to Avoid Scams During Tornado Recovery
JONESBORO – Northeast Arkansas is now in the clean-up phase after a tornado devasated the area. While many Arkansans may want to help their neighbors clean up and rebuild, con artists will seize the opportunity to take advantage of this vulnerable moment.
“Home repair scams are common following severe weather and in these already difficult times can place additional strain on Arkansans when repairs aren’t completed as promised,” said Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. “I urge all Arkansans to stay alert and use caution as they begin the clean-up process.”
Due to Governor Hutchinson’s disaster declaration on March 28, 2020, the Arkansas price gouging law is in effect for the Jonesboro area for 30 days for any materials necessary to recover from this disaster. The new ban on price gouging is in addition to the ban related to the COVID-19 public health emergency that is ongoing. Goods cannot be up-charged 10 percent more than they were did before the emergency declaration. If they are, businesses and individuals can face criminal charges and fines up to $10,000 per item. Consumers should report suspected price gouging to the Attorney General’s Office at ArkansasAG.gov/covid19.
Attorney General Rutledge released the following tips to ensure Arkansans hire a reputable contractor to complete home 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 you with a written contract.
- Get at least three written estimates. A reputable contractor or professional will never try to pressure you to obtain your business.
- Obtain and check at least three references from your 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 your project will be completed. Never make the final payment until you have had 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.
- Make sure all warranties and guarantees are in writing.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or visit ArkansasAG.gov or facebook.com/AGLeslieRutledge.