Consumer Column

Attorney General Jeff Landry Warns of Potential Flood Scams

BATON ROUGE, LA – Attorney General Jeff Landry is warning Louisiana residents to beware of scams in the wake of recent floods across the State.

“Our neighbors have been devastated by the recent flooding across Louisiana. I do not want them to be further damaged by con artists preying on people who are down on their luck,” said General Landry. “I encourage those impacted by the flooding and others wanting to assist to educate themselves on fake charities, sham rental properties, and contractor fraud. Please also contact our Consumer Protection Hotline at 800-351-4889 to report fraud, scam, or price gouging.”

General Landry is urging residents to follow these tips in guarding themselves against flood scammers:

• Do not donate to any charity that asks for cash or wired donations and does not provide proof your contribution would be tax-deductible. You may search the IRS website to determine which organizations are eligible to receive tax deductible contributions at https://apps.irs.gov/app/eos/.
• Be wary of charities that arise immediately after a natural disaster. Learn more about a charity’s trustworthiness on the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance website at http://give.org/.
• Insist on a face-to-face transaction with a rental agreement. Visit the physical location of the advertised rental property and know many con artists advertise rental property on social media sites, requiring the potential renter to wire money.
• Get at least three itemized, detailed bids from licensed contractors. Make sure the contractor is licensed through the Louisiana State Licensing Board for Contractors at www.lslbc.louisiana.gov.
• Always require the contractor show you proof of insurance such as workman’s compensation and general liability insurance. Call that insurer to confirm coverage.
• Do not agree to a large down payment. If possible – accompany the contractor to the building supply store, pay for the materials yourself, and have materials delivered directly to jobsite.
• Get a guarantee and a contract in writing. Any changes in the contract should be in writing and initialed by both parties.
• Always pay contractors by check or money order and keep a receipt. Write all checks to the company, not the individual worker.

For more information about fraud and other consumer-related issues, call Attorney General Jeff Landry’s Consumer Protection Hotline at 800-351-4889.

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Coming soon, the attorney's general office seeks to provide a mechanism by which to take online payments for collections.