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AG Bailey warns of winter weather scams


In an effort to inform and protect consumers, Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey is warnin consumers of the potential for winter weather scams. 

“As we enter a weekend of fierce winter weather across the state, I want to educate the public on potential scams,” said Attorney General Bailey in a statement issued Saturday. “Whether its snow, ice or wind, scammers will use the weather conditions to take advantage of you. The Attorney General’s Office works tirelessly to go after scammers who take advantage of consumers, and I want all Missourians to know that we are a resource if they need assistance.”

Fraudsters often plot out where they will target consumers, exploiting every little thing that can go wrong, from power outages to roofs damaged by fallen trees, Bailey noted.

Attorney General Bailey offered the following tips on what to look out for to avoid potential scams during the winter season:

1. Utility Scams: Someone showing up at a residence unannounced. Utility imposters work year-round, but after a storm, scammers might call or knock on teh door saying they need to repair or replace equipment. Then they’ll ask for payment before the work is completed. Don’t pay them. That is likely a scam. 

2. Contractor Scams: Taking their word when they say they’re licensed and insured. Before signing on any dotted line or paying anything, make sure that “contractor” is real. Ask if they are licensed and insured and check their paperwork. Contact the Better Business Bureau and the Attorney General hotline at 800-392-8222 to check on complaints. Ask for referrals and, unless you know them, avoid paying in cash. Make sure all work is performed before paying.

3. Government Scams: Official-sounding representation. If someone says they’re from the local utility company, call the utility company and ask for verification. The same goes for anyone who claims they’re a government official or who throws around official-sounding assistance — contact the agency in charge of whatever program you’re being offered and ask for their assistance.

4. “We need to plug your Social Security number (or bank account or credit card number) into our system to see if you qualify for the program.” If anyone asks you for anything like that, it’s likely a scam. The same principle applies to Federal Emergency Management Agency application fees. Someone who asks for money in order to qualify for FEMA funds may be scamming you.

“My message to Missourians during this winter season is to stay vigilant. If the worst happens to you, we’re here to help,” said Attorney General Bailey. “If any consumer believes they’ve been the victim of a scam, we encourage them to contact our consumer hotline at 800-392-8222 or online at ago.mo.gov.”