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Consumer Advisory: Terry Goddard Warns Homeowners to Be Cautious of Storm Repair Scams

(Phoenix, Ariz. – January 22, 2010) Attorney General Terry Goddard is warning Arizonans to be cautious of unsolicited contractors coming to your door and offering help with repairs or clean-up related to the recent storms that have pounded the State.

Scam artists often try to capitalize on severe storms by taking advantage of homeowners coping with damage. Some unsolicited contractors will claim to have extra materials because they are doing work in the neighborhood. The pitch to the homeowner includes a “discounted” price for materials so the contractor won’t have to throw materials away.

The homeowner is typically given a verbal quote, but never a written estimate for the job. The unsolicited contractor will do the work, and in some cases without the homeowner’s consent, will do additional work.  After the job is complete, the homeowner may be presented with a bill that is hundreds or even thousands of dollars more than what was originally quoted. The person will often demand immediate payment and in some cases refuse to leave in an attempt to pressure the homeowner into paying in full.

Goddard cautions Arizona residents to think twice before allowing anyone who shows up after a severe storm to work on your home. Instead, he offers the following tips when choosing a contractor:

  • Check with the Arizona Registrar of Contractors (www.azroc.gov) to make sure the contractor you are considering has a license.
  • Ask for written estimates from at least three contractors.
  • Request a list of references and check them before agreeing to hire anyone.
  • Make sure the scope of the project, the price and any other relevant terms are spelled out in a written contract.
  • Never allow yourself to be hurried into making a decision.  No reputable contractor will pressure you into a quick hiring decision.   

If you believe you have been a victim of fraud, please contact the Attorney General’s Office in Phoenix at 602.542.5763; in Tucson at 520.628.6504; or outside the Phoenix and Tucson metro areas at 1.800.352.8431.  To file a complaint in person, the Attorney General’s Office has satellite offices throughout the state with volunteers available to help.  Locations and hours of operation are posted on the Attorney General’s Web site.  Consumers can also file complaints on line by visiting the Attorney General’s Web site at www.azag.gov

For additional information, please contact Molly Edwards at (602) 542-8019.