From the Office of the Attorney General:
FRANKFORT, KY - Attorney General Jack Conway wants victims of recent severe storms and torrential downpours to be aware of scam artists who may try to prey upon their misfortune.
"Those whose homes have been damaged by high winds, lightning or flooding should not be victimized again by criminals who are looking to take advantage of widespread devastation in the Commonwealth," General Conway said.
Conway said consumers needing work done quickly to repair storm-damaged homes and property are at risk of falling victim to fly-by-night contractors, also known as "storm chasers." Common natural disaster scams include outright fraud, shoddy construction, charity scams, impersonating officials, and loan scams.
Conway is urging consumers to call the Consumer Protection Hotline at 1-888-432-9257 to report any incidents of possible fraud or shoddy construction work and repair.
"We know our neighbors are hurting right now and if residents see people in their communities who are trying to take advantage of consumers, I would encourage them to contact us," General Conway said.
Gov. Steve Beshear, in his emergency declaration yesterday, also agreed to trigger the price-gouging provision to help prevent unscrupulous businesses from raising prices on goods that consumers need to weather recent storms.
"The vast majority of Kentucky businesses would never seek to profit from someone else's misfortune, but we want to make sure that no one seeks to exploit our friends and neighbors who are cleaning up from floods, high winds or power outages," General Conway said.
The price-gouging provision means businesses cannot gouge storm victims on things like hotel rooms, generators, gasoline and clean-up supplies.
If consumers would like to report price-gouging allegations, they may email firstname.lastname@example.org or call the Consumer Protection Hotline at 1-888-432-9257.
Attorney General Conway provides the following tips to consumers needing storm repair or clean up services:
- Never pay in advance for labor. Scam artists often take advance payments from consumers and never return to complete the work. If an advance is needed to purchase materials, offer to purchase the materials yourself;
- Use local, reputable contractors for repairs, if possible. If local contractors bring in out-of-town workers, ask who will be responsible for their work if it is not satisfactory;
- Ask if the contractor is licensed, bonded (if required by the city or county), and insured;
- Check unknown companies out with the Better Business Bureau (Louisville/Western KY 1-800-388-2222; Lexington/Eastern KY 1-800-866-6668) or call the Consumer Protection Division 1-888-432-9257 to see if information is available about the company;
- Demand a written contract. If possible, get estimates from several contractors;
- Be suspicious of unfamiliar, out-of-state vehicles and those who offer repair work at unreasonably low prices. Contact local law enforcement about your suspicions.