AG: Don't fall victim to post-hurricane scams

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— Hurricane Florence impacted people in 34 of the state’s 100 counties. On Monday, the North Carolina Attorney General said those affected could become victims again – of post-hurricane scams.

FEMA and other agencies have given home and business owners millions of dollars to help them with repairs. So far, Attorney General Josh Stein said there have been 850 complaints related to price gouging, including home repairs and tree removals.

Of those, 30 were filed in Cumberland County and 20 in Robeson County.

During a news conference on Monday, he said one tree removal company in Wilmington used bait-and-switch tactics. They quoted the homeowner $4,000 for the job, but billed him $12,000.

In another case, the homeowner was charged $25,000 to remove one tree.

“What we don’t want is to have people have those same types of experiences here in Cumberland County,” Stein said. “So, the best thing we can do is … prevention is the best cure. Educate people about our price gouging law and what they can do to protect themselves.”

Stein asked that anyone who has been approached by a scammer or fallen victim to one – or knows someone who has – report it by using the Attorney General’s Office toll-free hotline at 877-5-NOSCAM.

Stein said when dealing with contractors for home repairs, owners should make sure to get bids from several companies and have those quotes put in writing.

In addition, never pay for the entire job up front. Always keep some of your money until you’re satisfied the job is completed the way you want it. Keeping the money gives you leverage to make sure the job gets done.

Lastly, always pay with a check or credit card. Never pay with cash. You’ll have a better chance of getting your money back if there’s a problem.