Attorney General Tom Miller, right, and Investigator Al Perales greet visitors to the Iowa State Fair.
Investigator will assist with derecho-related complaints
The Iowa Attorney General’s Office will set up a temporary office in Cedar Rapids next week to assist residents with consumer protection issues related to storm recovery.
Investigator Al Perales of the Consumer Protection Division will be available from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday, Aug. 31, and Wednesday, Sept. 2, at the U.S. Cellular Center, 370 1st Avenue NE. Perales can answer consumer questions regarding price gouging, hiring contractors and avoiding scams, and can take consumer complaints.
The AG’s office has received several complaints over price gouging and other issues as residents clean up after the storm. Consumers are encouraged to file written complaints with the office. You can find a complaint form at IowaAttorneyGeneral.gov, or call 888-777-4590.
“We take every complaint seriously,” said Attorney General Tom Miller, who visited Cedar Rapids on Thursday. “These complaints are a priority for our office, and we are committed to assisting storm damage victims.”
Miller has warned Iowans to watch out for “storm chasers” and other contractors who show up in hard-hit areas and persuade storm victims to hire them on the spot.
The office has created a checklist for consumers in hiring contractors after a disaster. We advise consumers to shop around and get multiple bids if possible; get them in writing; and do your research to choose a reputable contractor.
Linn County is now under two disaster declarations, from the derecho as well as the COVID pandemic. A disaster declaration triggers the state’s price-gouging rule, which forbids excessive prices for goods or services “needed by victims of disasters.” That includes water, food, medicines, sanitation supplies, utilities, and building materials. An excessive price is one “not justified by the seller’s actual costs of acquiring, producing, selling, transporting, and delivering the actual product sold, plus a reasonable profit.”
To file a complaint
If you think someone has broken the law, contact local law enforcement. If you feel you’ve been wronged, file a complaint with the Iowa Attorney General. Call 888-777-4590 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.