Consumer Column

Attorney General Jeff Landry Offers Consumer Tips to Tornado Victims
 
NEW ORLEANS, LA – Attorney General Jeff Landry wants victims of this week’s devastating tornadoes to know that contractor fraud is real, and he is offering tips to help those impacted by Tuesday’s storms avoid becoming victimized again.

“As many of the hard-working men and women of our State find themselves rebuilding from this natural disaster, our Louisiana Department of Justice wants to ensure they are not taken advantage of in any way,” said General Landry. “Our office is in the affected areas distributing important information to help avoid contractor fraud.”

Members of General Landry’s staff spent Friday morning going door-to-door New Orleans East with brochures of helpful consumer tips for tornado victims. “We are committed to doing all we can to help those who lost so much,” continued General Landry. “And we will bring to justice fraudsters who prey on our neighbors in need.”

Attorney General Jeff Landry is urging residents to follow these tips in guarding themselves against contractor scams:
  • Take a picture of your contractor. You should also photograph his or her vehicle, license plate, business card, contractor license, and insurance.
  • Get at least three itemized and detailed bids. Be certain each contractor bids on exactly the same work. If one contractor bids on more work than others, make a note of it.
  • Know the contractor. Always require the contractor show you proof of insurance such as workman’s compensation and general liability insurance. Call that insurer to confirm coverage. Verify the contractor’s address and ask for references of previous customers, inspecting work done for them when possible. Make sure the contractor is licensed through the Louisiana State Licensing Board for Contractors at www.lslbc.louisiana.gov.
  • Do not agree to a large down payment. A reputable contractor will not normally require a down payment over 10% to 25% of the total price. If possible, accompany the contractor to the building supply store and pay for the materials yourself. And have the materials delivered directly to your home or jobsite rather than the contractor’s shop.
  • Get a guarantee and a contract in writing. Be sure the contractor guarantees his or her work in writing. Do not accept verbal agreements. Any changes in the contract should be in writing and initialed by both parties. Keep a signed, legible copy of the contract in a safe place.
  • Do not pay cash. Always pay by check or money order and keep a receipt. Write all checks to the company, not the individual worker.

For digital copies of General Landry’s Consumer Tips for Natural Disaster Victims and Contractor Fraud brochures, please go to http://www.agjefflandry.com/Files/Consumer%20Tips%20for%20Natural%20Distaster%20Victims.pdf and http://www.agjefflandry.com/Home/GetRelatedFile?articleId=603. And to report a scam or sign up for consumer alerts, 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.