Jefferson City, MO (STL.News) – Following Missouri Governor Parson’s declaration of a state of emergency due to the flooding in certain parts of Missouri, Attorney General Schmitt renewed his warning to Missourians regarding price gouging and scams. Earlier this week, AG Schmitt warned citizens about construction fraud, charity fraud, and price gouging. During times of emergency and natural disasters, scammers and unscrupulous businesses and individuals take advantage of the displacement and devastation.
“Unfortunately, scammers and unscrupulous businesses see natural disasters as a way to take advantage of our state’s most vulnerable. I’m renewing my warning to Missourians – stay safe during the flooding, be hyper vigilant when shopping for essentials, and be thorough before beginning repairs,” said AG Schmitt. “Don’t let scammers worsen your situation with a stolen identity, money, or information. Follow the tips listed below and report any suspicious behavior to our Consumer Protection hotline.”
General Schmitt offers the following tips to assist citizens during times time of disasters:
Construction fraud is very common following a disaster.
- 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.
Price Gouging – 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.
- 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.