Sample press release

(County/City Official) Establish Emergency Home Repair Contractor Program to Prevent Con Artists Who Strike After Natural Disasters

(Date) In response to the storm that hit (city/county), (city/county official) announced an emergency home repair contractor program in (city/county) to prevent fly-by-night home improvement contractors from preying on storm victims.

The program requires all contractors to register with the (county/city/agency) and undergo a background check prior to doing business in the affected areas. Approved contractors will be issued placards which must be displayed on their job sites. Applications are available at (address) There is no fee to register. For more information, call (number of official's office coordinating the program).

Consumers are encouraged to be wary of transitory contractors. The Office of the Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division advises consumers to ask for references, insist on a written contract, avoid being rushed into signing a contract right away and get at least two estimates. Consumers should also read the fine print, deal with reputable companies, and ask family and friends to recommend contractors they have previously used and with whom they have been satisfied.

During this common natural disaster consumers may experience shoddy construction, price gouging, charity scams, loan scams and solicitation by persons who claim to be city or county officials. Consumers should be aware of these scams, make note of vehicle descriptions and license plate numbers and report suspicions to local law enforcement. The Office of the Attorney General is providing information on how to avoid disaster scams. Copies of the brochure, entitled "Beware of Disaster Scams" will be distributed at (location).

Consumers may contact the Consumer Protection Division at 1-888-432-9752 if they suspect fraudulent activities or to request information on a business. They may also call the Better Business Bureau at 1-800-866-6668 or 1-800-388-2222 to check a company's reputation.