TOPEKA – (May 27, 2011) –Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt is urging residents of storm-damaged areas to use caution during the cleanup and rebuilding to avoid fraud.
“Cleaning up and rebuilding after a storm often brings out the best in Kansans,” Schmidt said. “Neighbors pitch in from near and far to help storm victims put their lives back together. Unfortunately, there are also those who take advantage of victims in their time of need.”
Home repair scams are common in natural disaster situations. Scam artists will often pose as contractors, approaching owners of storm-damaged homes and offering to do repairs. They will sometimes ask for cash in advance to purchase supplies, and then never return to do the work. To avoid becoming a victim of this type of scam, the Attorney General’s Office recommends
- Ask for recommendations and references from contractors.
- Get at least three written estimates from different contractors.
- Make sure the contractor meets all licensing and permitting requirements, and is properly insured.
- Get all contracts in writing, and don’t make a final payment until you are satisfied that all work has been properly completed.
- If possible, do business with trusted contractors with whom you had a relationship prior to the disaster.
Consumers should be especially cautious of contractors who come door-to-door, offer discounted “leftover” materials, drive unmarked vehicles or have temporary magnetic signs or quote a price that is out of line with other estimates.
Additionally, all Kansans should use caution when donating to charities raising money for storm victims. Only donate to known, reputable charities. You can verify the status of a charity by visiting www.KsCharityCheck.org, or by calling (785) 296-4564.