Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller says he’s seen it with past disasters and expects to see it again – scam artists migrating to Iowa hoping to cheat flood victims. Miller spoke at a news conference today in Cedar Rapids, where thousands of residents are looking for help with clean-up or repairs to flood damaged homes and businesses. He’s asking Iowans to report any suspected "price gouging" to his office.
Iowa’s anti-price-gouging rule is in effect for the 84 counties that were declared state disaster areas. "Prices will go up somewhat for some products and that’s not prohibited," Miller said, "but the big increase that can only be explained as excessive is prohibited."
Thousands of Iowans are receiving money from FEMA or their insurance company and Miller says they may "let their guard down" when they’re in a hurry to recover from the flood. However, he says people need to be careful when they hire a contractor to do repairs.
Miller encourages Iowans to hire a local contractor or at least get references from work the contractor has done elsewhere. "Finally, don’t make a large payment to begin with," Miller said. "Frauds are always predicated on getting all or most of the money and then running or doing a poor job." More tips on checking out contractors and avoid repair scams are available on the Iowa Attorney General’s website.