JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (Legal Newsline) - Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster warned consumers Monday about storm chasing scams and price gouging after heavy rains and flooding occurred throughout southern and central Missouri.
Storm chasers typically go door-to-door and use high-pressure sales tactics when offering cleanup or repair services. The scammers may arrive from out-of-state and be unable to show local references or prove they are locally bonded or licensed. They may claim to specialize in services like flood repairs and attempt to convince consumers to sign a contract that lets the scammers negotiate directly with the homeowner's insurance company.
The storm chasers actually provide no work or shoddy work after taking upfront payments before fleeing the area.
Some storm chasers promise purportedly guaranteed loans from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and ask for an upfront payment for the application. FEMA does not charge an application fee for such assistance.
Koster also said businesses and individuals may engage in price gouging, the excessive and artificial raising of prices during an emergency for necessities like water, food, gasoline and cleanup equipment. Price gouging is illegal in the state of Missouri.
"My office is prepared to protect property owners and other consumers in Missouri hit hard by severe flooding," Koster said. "Anyone with flood or other storm related property damage should be alert for scammers who follow weather disasters and prey on people needing repair or cleanup work."
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