AG warns of scams, fraud as Kansans repair storm damage
TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - On Wednesday, May 4, Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt urged Kansans to exercise caution as they react to Friday’s severe storms which struck the state and left widespread damage in their wakes.
AG Schmidt said it is important for Kansans to know their rights under the Kansas Consumer Protection Act regarding home or business repairs, as well as to be diligent when donating to charitable organizations that help with relief efforts.
“As the road to recovery begins, it is important for consumers to be on guard against scammers and unscrupulous businesses looking to profit from the tragedy of others,” Schmidt said.
Schmidt said staff from his office’s Consumer Protection Division have been in contact with local officials in areas damaged by storms to help respond to contractors and consumers.
Schmidt advised Kansans to be particularly cautious in three regards:
- With few exceptions, Schmidt said the Kansas Roofing Registration Act requires roofing contractors which operate in Kansas to be licensed with a registration certificate from the AG’s office to legally solicit or provide commercial or residential roofing services for a fee. He said the act was meant to ensure legitimate roofing contractors comply with state requirements, like carrying appropriate insurance and to help prevent operators from taking advantage of consumers. He said the requirement to register is in addition to other local requirements that cities, counties, or other governments could impose. He noted that working with a roofer who is registered is a bare minimum to help prevent problems.
- To view the online directory of registered roofers, click HERE.
- Door-to-door peddlers
- Under Kansas law, Schmidt said any door-to-door sale is required to include a 3-day right to cancel any purchase of $25 or more made at home or any location that is not the seller’s permanent place of business or local address. He said the seller is required to give written and verbal notice of the right to cancel and contact information if the consumer chooses to exercise their right to cancel. It is also suggested consumers send the cancellation by certified mail so it can be tracked. He said companies are then required to refund the customer’s money within 10 days of getting the cancellation. If customers pay for door-to-door sales with a check, he noted that the seller is not allowed to cash or deposit that check until five business days have passed since the transaction. This is to give Kansans the chance to exercise their 3-day right to cancel. Because of the rule, he said it is especially important to pay for door-to-door sales in cash since it becomes impossible to exercise the option to cancel the transaction and stop payment on the check.
- Schmidt recommended the following tips to help deal with any transient contractors, including those who sell repairs door-to-door:
- Get recommendations for friends and neighbors and references from the contractor.
- Get at least three written estimates from different contractors.
- Check contractor complaint records with the Better Business Bureau.
- Understand payment options and the right to cancel.
- Do not pay for the full amount of work upfront.
- The AG also reminded Kansans to do their homework and be on guard against scams or unscrupulous charities who seek to profit from the disaster. Numerous organizations have established avenues for making charitable contributions to provide food, shelter and other resources to victims of the storm. He said Kansans should be cautious of solicitors who appear to be legitimate but use a name that is slightly modified from a well-known charity, or use a misleading online address to redirect well-intended contributions. He said the safest way to avoid charity fraud through email, text or phone scams is for Kansans to take control of their own charitable giving. He said Kansans should develop their own proactive giving plan and give straight to the charities of their choice, ensuring that the maximum portion of the contribution goes to disaster relief rather than fundraising expenses.
The Attorney General’s Office is responsible for the enforcement of the Kansas Charitable Organizations and Solicitations Act and the protection of consumers from fraudulent charitable and solicitation activities.
Those who may have issues with contractors may file a request for the AG’s Consumer Protection Division to investigate at 800-432-2310 or HERE.
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