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Attorney General Alert: Beware of Scam Artists as NE Arkansas Rebuilds Following Severe Weather

LITTLE ROCK - 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.

“I urge all Arkansans to stay alert as they begin the clean-up process and use caution if approached with unsolicited home-repair offers,” said Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. “Scams are common following severe weather and in these already difficult times fraud can place additional strain on Arkansans when services aren’t completed as promised.”

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:

Due to current economic circumstances and supply chain issues, consumers should expect longer than usual delays for products used for repairs.

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 Contractor’s Licensing Board to verify that the contractor is licensed and has not had any complaints filed against it.

Avoid any home-repair solicitor who asks for an upfront payment or who will not provide you with a written contract.

Get at least three written estimates. A reputable contractor or professional will never try to pressure you to obtain your business.

Obtain and check at least three references from your contractor or professional.

Check with the Attorney General’s office or the Better Business Bureau to find out if the company has a complaint history.

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.

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.

Remember that all contracts resulting from a home-solicitation sale generally must include a buyer’s right to cancel within three business days after the contract is signed.

Make sure all warranties and guarantees are in writing.

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 General’s office at (800) 482-8982.

About Attorney General Leslie Rutledge

Leslie Carol Rutledge is the 56th Attorney General of Arkansas. Elected on November 4, 2014, and sworn in on January 13, 2015, she is the first woman and first Republican in Arkansas history to be elected as Attorney General. She was resoundingly re-elected on November 6, 2018. Since taking office, she has significantly increased the number of arrests and convictions against online predators who exploit children and con artists who steal taxpayer money through Social Security Disability and Medicaid fraud. Further, she has held Rutledge Roundtable meetings and Mobile Office hours in every county of the State each year, and launched a Military and Veterans Initiative. She has led efforts to roll back government regulations that hurt job creators, fight the opioid epidemic, teach internet safety, combat domestic violence and make the office the top law firm for Arkansans. Rutledge serves on committees for Consumer Protection, Criminal Law and Veterans Affairs for the National Association of Attorneys General. She also served as the former Chairwoman of the Republican Attorneys General Association.

A native of Batesville, she is a graduate of the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville and the University of Arkansas at Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law. Rutledge clerked for the Arkansas Court of Appeals, was Deputy Counsel for former Governor Mike Huckabee, served as a Deputy Prosecuting Attorney in Lonoke County and was an Attorney at the Department of Human Services before serving as Counsel at the Republican National Committee. Rutledge and her husband, Boyce, have one daughter. The family has a home in Pulaski County and a farm in Crittenden County.

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