Pa. A.G. Warns Residents About Possible Flood-Related Scams in Wake of Storm

September 22, 2004

Pennsylvania Attorney General Jerry Pappert warned consumers to be wary of potential flood-related scams including fly-by-night contractors or bogus charity appeals that claim to assist flood victims and their families. The remnants of Hurricane Ivan pounded parts of the Keystone State last weekend, leaving numerous towns swamped with water.

“Unfortunately, natural disasters are a breeding ground for a variety of cons and scams that run the gamut from unscrupulous home repair contractors to phony door-to-door pleas for cash to assist ‘neighbors’ in trouble,” Pappert said. “I urge consumers to immediately contact my Bureau of Consumer Protection to report any potential flood-related scams or suspicious solicitations in their communities.”

Pappert said to be extremely cautious in hiring a contractor who is going door-to-door making an on-the-spot offer to repair your home or property right away at an unusually low cost. Reputable contractors will reportedly not pressure you to make an immediate decision or suggest that the job can be done without a written contract.

“The most important advice I have for a homeowner is use common sense and give yourself time to make well thought out decisions,” Pappert said. “The most common and biggest mistakes occur when homeowners rush into a repair plan because they feel panicked, stressed or pressured.”

Pappert said other flood-related scams include bogus pleas for charitable donations to assist neighbors harmed by the disaster. Be careful donating to individuals seeking cash to help families who you are unaware of or who they cannot identify.

Also, if a solicitation is made on behalf of a well known charity, always check with the organization to ensure that it is in fact soliciting in the neighborhood. If a charity does not sound familiar, check its registration status by calling the Pennsylvania Department of State at 1 (800) 732-0999.

Consumers are also reminded that under Pennsylvania law car dealers are required to disclose if a vehicle incurred flood damage. Signs of flood damage include new carpet in an older model used vehicle, dirt or mud in air vents, musty or moldy smell, fluid contamination in oil or transmission containers.

Consumers who suspect vehicle flood damage are urged to have their cars inspected by a reputable mechanic.

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