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Avoid Home Repair and Charitable Fraud

Debra Pankow, Family Economics Specialist

Disaster situations, unfortunately, attract con-artists from across the country.

Home Repair Fraud

Although it may seem as if repairmen are in short supply after a disaster, it makes good economic sense to shop around before hiring a repairman for the job.

Be wary of door-to-door salesmen. Conduct business only with established, licensed and insured workmen. Be cautious of sound-alike names.

Never let anyone begin working on your home or business without first establishing a written contract. Don't let anyone rush you into a deal.

A good contract should include the contractor's name, business name, phone number and address. You can verify this information with the Attorney General's Office if things don't seem to be adding up right.

The contract should include a thorough description of the work to be completed, grade and quality of materials to be used, agreed-upon starting and completion dates, total cost, payment schedule, warranty limits and the contractor's signature.

Make your first payment after the contract is established, and make your final payment when the work is completed to your satisfaction.

Charitable Fraud

Although it feels wonderful to give during times of disaster, make sure your donations are going to a legitimate charity, not a con artist. Check whether or not the charity is registered with the North Dakota Secretary of State.

Some important questions to ask:

  • What is the charity's exact name?
  • Where is it located?
  • Does it have local offices?
  • What percent of the money goes to the actual program?
  • What programs does it offer in your community?
  • Where and when are these programs offered?
  • How long has the charity been in operation?

A legitimate solicitor will know the answers to these questions and won't mind if you check out the information they provide.

In addition, tips from the Consumer Protection Division of the North Dakota Office of Attorney General should help the wise consumer detect and avoid price gouging, poor workmanship and con artists disaster scams.

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