- Following heavy thunderstorms and tornadoes that swept through the Jefferson City area and other parts of Missouri, Attorney General Schmitt is urging Missourians to watch out for price gouging as they buy supplies, and be wary of scams as they look to make repairs.“My prayers are with all of those affected by these storms in Jefferson City and across the state, and I’m incredibly thankful for the tireless work of our first responders to keep Missourians safe,” said Schmitt. “Unfortunately, scammers often see disasters as a way to make a quick buck off of people who are just trying to buy supplies or rebuild. Price gouging, or raising the price on essential goods by significant amounts, is illegal, and if you see it happening, give our office a call. Due to the significant damage done to homes and businesses, major repairs will need to be made. Be wary of possible construction fraud happening in your area, and if you fall victim to a scam, call our consumer protection hotline – we’re here to help. Stay safe, Missouri.”
The Attorney General’s Office urges Missourians to follow the below tips, and report any instances of price gouging or scams to their office.
Price Gouging – In the immediate aftermath of natural disasters when the need for food and supplies is high is when the potential for price gouging is highest. Missouri law prohibits individuals and businesses from substantially raising their prices for the necessities of life during an emergency. Consumers need to be aware of products that see a large increase in prices. This could include food, water, gasoline, hotel rooms, kerosene, gas powered generators, and other basic necessities. Remember, price gouging is illegal. Report any instances of price gouging to our Consumer Protection Hotline at 800-392-8222.
Construction fraud is also very common following a disaster. Follow these tips to avoid scams as you start to rebuild:
- Get everything in writing. Thoroughly review your contract. Know the start and end date.
- Research the company before you sign a contract. Get all their contact information.
- Beware of anyone who looks or acts unprofessional or offers to save you money by using materials left over from another job. Storm chasers are very common after disasters.
- Obtain at least two to three estimates
- Never pay in cash
- Get receipts for materials
- Make sure your insurance company is working with you to provide the proper estimate and coverage under your policy.
- Take a photo of their contractor and the contractors vehicle with license plate
- Take a video of the payment of money and the contractors agreement as to what work will be done and whenCharity Fraud is also prevalent after disasters. Follow these tips to avoid being scammed:
- Watch out for charities that use names closely resembling legitimate charities.
- Don’t commit over the phone unless you have investigated the legitimacy of the organization.
- Avoid cash donations and make checks payable to the organization, not to an individual.
- When in doubt, call the charity and ask them if they are aware of the solicitations being done in their name.For additional information or to file a complaint, please contact our Consumer Protection Hotline at 800-392-8222 or online at https://ago.mo.gov/app/consumercomplaint