Office of the Attorney General
Attorney General Conway Urges Storm Victims to Be Leery of Scam Artists, Storm Chasers

Press Release Date:  Wednesday, June 22, 2011  
Contact Information:  Shelley Catharine Johnson
Deputy Communications Director
502-696-5659 (office)
 


Attorney General Jack Conway reminds victims of the recent storms and flash flooding that resulted in declared emergencies in six Eastern Kentucky counties to be leery of scam artists and fly-by-night contractors, also known as "storm chasers."

"As Kentuckians lend a helping hand to neighbors in need, scam artists are looking to prey on the misfortune of those who have lost homes or suffered damage following these storms," General Conway said. "Consumers need to remain vigilant and beware of common natural disaster scams such as shoddy construction, outright fraud, charity scams and loan scams. It's also important to get written estimates from multiple contractors, if possible."

General Conway also asks Kentuckians to report businesses that raise their prices for goods and services that consumers need to clean-up storm damage.

"I want to make sure that Kentuckians struggling to make necessary repairs to their homes and property are not victimized a second time by unscrupulous businesses," General Conway said. "My office stands ready to investigate and prosecute, where appropriate, allegations of price gouging."

At the request of Attorney General Conway, Gov. Beshear signed a consumer protection executive order on May 27 to extend Kentucky's statewide price-gouging protection law for an additional 30 days. Gov. Beshear first triggered the price-gouging provision on April 25 due to severe storms and flooding across the Commonwealth.

The price-gouging provision means businesses cannot gouge storm victims on things like hotel rooms, generators, gasoline and clean-up supplies or services including tree removal. If consumers would like to report price-gouging allegations, they may email pricecomplaints@ag.ky.gov or call General Conway's 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 Attorney General's 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.

For additional information or to file a consumer protection complaint online, visit www.ag.ky.gov.