LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — Severe thunderstorms and one tornado have already hit Arkansans this spring leaving many residents without homes and being forced to clean up the damage.

Attorney General Leslie Rutledge warns of con artists seizing the opportunity to take advantage of a vulnerable situation.

Rutledge says Arkansans must keep their home and family safe from a fraudster trying to make take their money.

“Spring storms and recovery efforts often bring an increase in door-to-door scam artists,” said Rutledge. “Make sure you follow steps to avoid falling prey to con artists who use recovery efforts to scam Arkansans.”

She offers these tips to follow so residents can find legitimate individuals to perform home repairs:

  • Beware of door-to-door solicitors selling home-repair work. To find someone reputable, ask friends or family who have recently used a home-repair contractor or professional. Consider contacting the Arkansas Contractor’s Licensing Board to verify that the contractor is licensed and has not had any complaints filed against it.
  • Avoid any home-repair solicitor who asks for an upfront payment or who will not provide you with a written contract.
  • Get at least three written estimates. A reputable contractor or professional will never try to pressure you to obtain your business.
  • Obtain and check at least three references from your contractor or professional.
  • Check with the Attorney General’s office or the Better Business Bureau to find out if the company has a complaint history.
  • Obtain a written and detailed contract that includes the grade, quality, name brand and quantity of any materials to be used. The name and address of the contractor must be on the contract.
  • Avoid paying for the entire job up front. One-third paid in advance, one-third paid halfway through the job and one-third paid upon completion is a better plan, helping assure that your project will be completed. Never make the final payment until you have had an opportunity to inspect the work.
  • Remember that all contracts resulting from a home-solicitation sale generally must include a buyer’s right to cancel within three business days after the contract is signed.
  • Make sure all warranties and guarantees are in writing.
  • A contractor cannot promise that your insurance company will cover the work done.  Verify your insurance coverage and authorized contractors before you agree to pay for repairs.

For more information and tips to avoid scams and other consumer-related issues, contact the Arkansas Attorney General’s Office at consumer@arkansasag.gov or visit ArkansasAG.gov.