Northeast Arkansas is cleaning up and entering the rebuilding phase after severe weather tore through the area on Friday. True to their core, many Arkansans will want to help their neighbors clean up and rebuild, however con artists will seize the opportunity to take advantage of hurting communities, especially as supply chains are making it harder to acquire necessary products for the home repairs.
â€œI urge all Arkansans to stay alert as they begin the clean-up process and use caution if approached with unsolicited home-repair offers,â€ said Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. â€œScams are common following severe weather and in these already difficult times fraud can place additional strain on Arkansans when services arenâ€™t completed as promised.â€
Governor Hutchinson declared a state of emergency in the affected area which triggers Arkansas price gouging laws for the State. Price gouging complaints relate directly to the immediate emergency need and the recovery of items.
Attorney General Rutledge released the following tips to ensure Arkansans hire a reputable contractor to complete home repairs:
â€¢ Due to current economic circumstances and supply chain issues, consumers should expect longer than usual delays for products used for repairs.
â€¢ 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 Contractorâ€™s Licensing Board to verify that the contractor is licensed and has not had any complaints filed against it.
â€¢ Avoid any home-repair solicitor who asks for an upfront payment or who will not provide you with a written contract.
â€¢ Get at least three written estimates. A reputable contractor or professional will never try to pressure you to obtain your business.
â€¢ Obtain and check at least three references from your contractor or professional.
â€¢ Check with the Attorney Generalâ€™s office or the Better Business Bureau to find out if the company has a complaint history.
â€¢ 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.
â€¢ 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.
â€¢ Remember that all contracts resulting from a home-solicitation sale generally must include a buyerâ€™s right to cancel within three business days after the contract is signed.
â€¢ Make sure all warranties and guarantees are in writing.
â€¢ Never let a contractor discourage you from contacting your insurance company.
For Arkansans looking for assistance to rebuild, contact the Arkansas Division of Emergency Management at 501-683-6700 or submit a message here.
If you have questions about what your insurance policy covers, contact your Insurer or the Arkansas Department of Insurance at 800-852-5494.
For more information and tips to avoid scams and other consumer-related issues, contact the Arkansas Attorney Generalâ€™s office at (800) 482-8982