Beware! Historic flooding brings scammers

In light of historic flooding and potentially more flooding next week in Mississippi’s Delta, Attorney General Jim Hood is reminding Mississippians who are suffering property damage because of the flood to be on alert for fraudulent home repair contractors and other scammers.

“As we sympathize with homeowners and farmers who have lost their homes and livelihoods due to the Yazoo Backwater flooding and prepare for the Mississippi River to crest, I want to make sure they are not victimized a second time when flood victims are finally able to begin the repair process. This is a warning to scammers: I will have investigators on the ground to locate any fraud being committed against homeowners,” General Hood said. “Most contractors are there to help, but I want to remind Mississippians of steps they can take to prevent themselves from being scammed by fly-by-night repair people.

Our office has created a guide that outlines the exact questions to ask when seeking clean up and repairs so that flood victims have one less thing to worry about during this process. We are in touch with local emergency management, and our investigators will be in the affected areas in order to provide standard form home repair contracts and make sure that people do not fall victim.”

Here are some tips to protect yourself and loved ones from fraudulent contractors and others:

·   Verify that the company you are considering is insured. Ask for a copy of the certificate of insurance.

·   Do your research. Contact our Consumer Protection Division, the MS State Board of Contractors or the Better Business Bureau of Mississippi to see if they have complaints against the company. Ask for several local references and make sure to follow through on checking them. Look online at reviews of their work.

·   Take time to shop around, and be suspicious of any price that seems unusually high or low. Get written estimates from more than onecompany, and check with friends or family who’ve had work done recently to see what they paid and who they recommend.

·   Ask how the job will be done and if they will perform the work according to industry standards.

·   Ask for details on post-job clean up and debris removal. If you don’t, it could lead to you having to also pay extra for full debris removal.

More information on home repair fraud can be found in our online guide, “Consumer Tips for Storm Victims.”

If home repair fraud or other scams are suspected, contact the AG’s Consumer Protection Division at (601) 359-4230 or (800) 281-4418.

You may email concerns to aginfo@ago.state.ms.us