LITTLE ROCK — In the aftermath of the deadly tornadoes that ripped through Arkansas on Sunday, Attorney General Tim Griffin issued a statement warning of post-storm rebuilding scams.

He continued on informing businesses of prohibitions on price gouging in Act 367 of 1997 following Governor Huckabee’s declaration of a state of emergency in Executive Order 24-07 issued on May 26.

“My prayers continue for everyone affected by this weekend’s storms, especially those who lost loved ones. Arkansans always show kindness and compassion to others when storms strike our state. Yet there are unscrupulous people who will try take advantage of our neighbors in their desperate time of need.

“Those with storm damage should call their insurance company before paying any company or individual a deposit. Post-storm scammers will offer quick repair jobs for an immediate deposit and may even claim that insurance will reimburse the purchaser. I encourage Arkansans not to feel pressured into immediate solutions that appear too good to be true.

“Furthermore, the Governor’s emergency declaration has triggered the state’s anti-price gouging law, prohibiting businesses from charging more than 10 percent above the pre-disaster price of goods or services. Price gouging will not be tolerated as Arkansas recovers, and I will bring the full power of my office to bear on anyone who violates our law.

Griffin also wants to remind homeowners that insurers will honor their home policies and they should not rush or be pressured into signing a contracting agreement as they look to repair their homes.

  • He also offered these tips for repairing damaged property:
  • Get more than one estimate.
  • Demand references and check them out.
  • Never let a contractor pressure you into hiring them.
  • Never sign a contract with blanks “to be filled in later.”
  • Never pay a contractor in full until the work is finished.
  • Never let a contractor discourage you from contacting your insurance company.

Homeowners should also be sure to review and understand everything that they have to send in to their insurance companies.

Act 367 of 1997 is triggered whenever a state of emergency is declared by federal, state, or local governments. A violation of Act 376 is also a violation of the Deceptive Trade Practices Act, which carries a fine of up to $10,000. The law prohibits businesses from charging more than 10 percent above the pre-disaster price of goods or services, such as:

  • Food and water
  • Fuel
  • Blankets, medicine, and bandages
  • Flashlights, batteries, and construction materials

Price gouging remains banned for at least 30 days and can be extended for 30 additional days in order to protect Arkansas’ lives, property, or welfare.

The law remains in effect for 180 days for home repairs.