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April 14, 2011

Miller Warns of Post-Tornado Scams & Consumer Protection Issues

(DES MOINES, Iowa)  Attorney General Tom Miller advised Iowans affected by last week’s tornado outbreak to beware of a variety of scams and consumer protection issues that could emerge along the storm’s path.

“While storm victims are picking up the pieces, con artists tend to pick out their victims,” Miller said.  “This is unfortunately something we tend to see when there’s a natural disaster like a tornado or flood.”

In the latest monthly Consumer Advisory (“Nailing Down Home Repair Rip-Offs & Disputes”), Miller offers tips for consumers who plan to do business with a contractor.  The tips include dealing with contractors who show up at the door, checking out a contractor, estimates, contracts and payments.

In addition to April’s Consumer Advisory on hiring contractors, Miller notes that Iowans who experienced storm damage should also be vigilant for disaster-related scams and issues:

  • Report price gouging to the Consumer Protection Division.  Price gouging is against the law in counties where a disaster declaration is in effect (for a current list of counties, go to www.iowahomelandsecurity.org)Price gouging is charging very high prices that are not justified, and taking unfair advantage of disaster victims.
  • Beware of online schemes and charity scams.  Con artists may set up websites to make it look like they are legitimate or local charities.  Solicitors may ask for donations but may give little of the money to actual flood or tornado victims. 

Go to www.IowaAttorneyGeneral.gov for more tips on preventing scams, and for more information on hiring contractors, price gouging and donation scams.

If you have complaints or questions, contact the Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division, Des Moines, IA 50319. Call 888-777-4590 (toll-free outside of the Des Moines area) or 515-281-5926.

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