Tuesday, May 02, 2017
Attorney General forms rapid response team to help flooding victims
Attorney General Josh Hawley today announced he is forming a Natural Disaster Rapid Response Team in the Attorney General’s Office to help victims of the flooding that has devastated the state.
“We are mobilizing all available resources to help Missourians protect themselves and their families after this terrible flooding,” Hawley said. “Our attorneys and consumer advocates are here to help you get back on your feet. And we are here to go after scam artists and fraudsters who would prey upon the vulnerable.”
The new Rapid Response Team will:
Respond to consumer complaints and take immediate action against scam artists and fraudsters
Work with banks to provide relief for consumers facing mortgage payments while dealing severe home damage
Coordinate with the Department of Insurance and other agencies to help consumers navigate the insurance process and facilitate consumer claims
Consumers can contact the Rapid Response Team at 1-800-392-8222. Attorney General Hawley is also sending lawyers and advocates to Red Cross shelters and agency resources centers in flood-ravaged areas.
Hawley commented, “To those harmed by this disaster, we want to do all we can to help you. Please contact us. We are here to work on your behalf.”
General Hawley offers the following tips to avoid becoming the victim of scams following emergencies caused by severe weather:
Report price gouging. Missouri law is clear — price gouging is illegal and the Attorney General’s Office will investigate and prosecute price gouging to the fullest extent of the law. Any person who believes a business has suddenly and artificially raised the prices on necessities during emergency conditions should contact the Attorney General’s Office.
Do not prepay for work. Inspect the work and make sure you are satisfied before you pay. A reasonable down payment may be required for some projects, but don’t pay anything without getting a written contract. Avoid paying with cash; use a check or a credit card instead.
Beware of any contractor who tries to rush you or who comes to your home to solicit work. If an offer is only good for a limited time, find someone else to perform the work.
Seek recommendations from friends, neighbors, co-workers and others who have had work performed on their homes in the past. Do not hire any person without asking for, and checking, references.
Contact your insurance company before moving ahead with repairs by a contractor. Some insurance companies require an adjuster's pre-approval for work to be covered under their policies
Get three written estimates for the work, if possible, and compare bids. Check credentials and contact the Attorney General’s Office and the Better Business Bureau to learn about any complaints against the contractor. Before work begins, make sure you get a written contract detailing all the work to be performed, its costs and a projected completion date.
Beware of charity scams that use recent storms to make their phony pleas for donations sound more plausible. If a caller refuses to answer your questions about the charity; offers to come to pick up a donation in person; or calls you and asks for a credit card, bank account or Social Security number, it may be a scam. To report telemarketing fraud, call the Attorney General's Office.
Consumers can file complaints online, or by calling the Attorney General's Consumer Protection Hotline at 1-800-392-8222.