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Published: 2011-04-18 12:04:00
Updated: 2011-04-19 17:51:01
Posted April 18, 2011 12:04 p.m. EDT
Updated April 19, 2011 5:51 p.m. EDT
Raleigh, N.C. — Attorney General Roy Cooper warned consumers on Monday to watch out for scams related to the tornadoes and storms that swept through the state on Saturday.
“Scammers use natural disasters and other tragedies to prey on desperate, unsuspecting victims,” Cooper said in a press release. “Don’t let con artists use this storm to take your money and run.”
While the vast majority of contractors, tree removal companies and car repair shops in North Carolina are good business people, Cooper said, some unscrupulous people travel to areas that have been hit by natural disasters to take advantage of consumers.
North Carolina residents should report scams and fraud to Cooper’s office by calling 1-877-5-NO-SCAM within the state or by filing a consumer complaint online.
Cooper offered these tips:
Cooper also said Monday that his office is now authorized to investigate allegations of price gouging in the 18 counties and cities where states of emergencies have been declared.
Those counties/cities are: Bertie, Bladen, Cumberland, Greene, Halifax, Harnett, Hoke, Johnston, Lee, Onslow, Pender, Pitt, Robeson, Sampson, Wake and Wilson counties; and the cities of Dunn and Farmville.
Price gouging – or charging an unreasonably excessive amount in times of crisis – is against North Carolina law when a disaster, an emergency or an abnormal market disruption for critical goods and services is declared by the governor or local governments. The law also applies to all levels of the supply chain from the manufacturer to the distributor to the retailer.
To report price gouging, call the Consumer Protection Division at 1-877-5-NO-SCAM (toll-free within North Carolina) or by fill out a price gouging complaint form online.