Office of the Attorney General
Attorney General Conway Warns Storm Victims to Be Leery of Scam Artists, Fly-by-night Contractors

Press Release Date:  Thursday, March 01, 2012  
Contact Information:  Shelley Catharine Johnson
Deputy Communications Director
502-696-5659 (office)
 


Attorney General Jack Conway wants victims of yesterday's severe weather to be aware of scam artists who may try to prey upon their misfortune. Dozens of homes in Western, Eastern and South Central Kentucky were severely damaged as a result of the storm system that spawned high winds and tornadoes, killing at least 12 people and causing widespread devastation in communities across the Midwest and South.

"My thoughts and prayers are with the many families here in Kentucky and across the Midwest who have been affected by the severe weather," General Conway said. "As storm victims begin to clean-up and rebuild, I want to ensure that they aren't victimized a second time by scam artists and so-called storm-chasers who try to profit during times of disaster."

Common natural disaster scams include outright fraud, shoddy construction, charity scams, impersonating officials and loan scams. General Conway is urging consumers to report any incidents of possible fraud or shoddy construction work to his Consumer Protection Hotline at 1-888-432-9257.

Consumers who need storm repair or clean up services are encouraged to follow these tips:

  • Never pay in advance for labor. Scam artists often take advance payments from consumers and never return to complete the work. In an advance payment 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 with the Better Business Bureau to learn more about unknown companies (Louisville/Western Ky. 1-800-388-2222; Lexington/Eastern Ky. 1-800-866-6668) or call the Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division at 1-888-432-9257 to find out more about a business.
  • 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.