AG’s Consumer Unit provides tips on how to avoid contractor fraud during recovery
OKLAHOMA CITY – Attorney General Mike Hunter today announced the Emergency Price Stabilization Act is in effect for all 77 counties after the state was recently hit by several rounds of heavy rain and storms, causing flooding, tornadoes and damage throughout the state.
The law, also referred to as the price gouging statute, triggers automatically after a declaration of emergency and prohibits an increase of more than 10 percent for the price of goods and services.
Attorney General Hunter said the law also allows his office to prosecute individuals who attempt to inflate prices of goods and services in an attempt to take advantage of victims.
“This law helps protect Oklahomans who are at their most vulnerable after a storm,” Attorney General Hunter said. “The last thing these families need is someone trying to take advantage of them. We also hope the law acts as a deterrent, preventing artificial price increases and reminds those considering breaking the law that they could face legal action by my office.”
The act is in effect for 30 days after the declared emergency. It remains in effect for another 180 days for prices for repairs, remodeling and construction. If convicted, individuals who break the law face fines of $10,000 per violation.
The Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Unit offers the following tips to avoid contractor fraud:
- Ask for referrals from people you trust and for references from contractors;
- Avoid fly-by-night companies and use local companies established in the community;
- Obtain written estimates from multiple contractors;
- Ensure roofers are registered with the Oklahoma Construction Industries Board by calling (405) 521-6550 or check the online database at http://cib.ok.gov/are-they-licensed;
- Be cautious of door-to-door solicitation, contractors who ask for a substantial up-front payment or request cash payment, use high pressure or aggressive sales tactics or resist the use of a written contract;
- Do not give out bank account information, social security or driver’s license numbers;
- If contractors identify themselves with a federal or state government agency, ask for credentials and call the agency they claim to be with.
For more information or to report a complaint, individuals are encouraged to contact the Consumer Protection Unit by phone at (405) 521-2029, or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.