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AG Derek Schmidt: Kansas fire damage could attract illegal contractors, price gouging, charity scams

Release Date: Mar 13, 2017

TOPEKA – (March 13, 2017) – Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt is urging residents in areas damaged by recent wildfires to use caution during the cleanup and rebuilding to avoid scams by transient contractors or price gouging. He also warned all Kansans wishing to help with recovery efforts to watch out for fake charities soliciting donations.

“After damage from disasters, our main priority is to clean up and rebuild as quickly as possible,” Schmidt said. “Friends, family and neighbors are usually the first to offer help. Sadly, however, there are also those who take advantage of victims in their time of need.”

Consumers should be on the lookout for price gouging in the wake of a disaster. Kansas law prohibits unjustifiably increasing the price of any necessary property or service, including gasoline, during a time of declared disaster. Many counties in south central, central and northwest Kansas were declared disaster areas after last week’s wildfires.

Scam artists posing as charities can cause trouble for generous Kansans hoping to help their neighbors. For those interested in donating to charities to help victims of the wildfires, here are some tips:

  • Visit the website at www.kansascharitycheck.org  or call (785) 296‑4564 to find information on charitable organizations registered in Kansas, your rights as a consumer when giving to charities and the Kansas Charitable Organization and Solicitation Act.
  • Check the Better Business Bureau and others for information on charities: www.give.orgwww.charitywatch.org, and www.guidestar.org.
  • Check out charities on www.give.org for tax deduction qualification, charity ratings and additional information.
  • When you are ready to donate, send your donation in the form of a check so you have a receipt.  Do not give out credit card or bank information to an organization.

The Kansas Department of Agriculture has a list of organizations that are assisting in the recovery effort. That information can be found here: http://agriculture.ks.gov/news-events/kansas-wildfire-recovery-resources.

Any Kansans who have problems with contractors or other companies that follow storms or disasters may file a request for the attorney general’s Consumer Protection Division to investigate at (800) 432-2310 or www.InYourCornerKansas.org . In addition, anybody encountering a fake charity soliciting funds in response to the disaster can file a complaint with the Consumer Protection Division.

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News releases issued prior to 2011 are available through an archive hosted by the Kansas State Library.