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The Sun-Times - Heber Springs, AR
  • Attorney general offers support to storm victims, warns of scam artists

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  • The Arkansas attorney general issued a statement of support Monday and pointed Arkansans wanting to help in the right direction.
    “Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Mayflower, Vilonia and surrounding areas today,” Attorney General Dustin McDaniel said. “I know the people of Arkansas will rally to support them in every way possible as they begin the long, painful recovery process.”
    Those needing immediate disaster relief assistance may call the Arkansas American Red Cross at (800) REDCROSS.
    Residents needing information and assistance may also call the Arkansas Attorney General’s Office toll-free hotline at (800) 482-8982. Phone counselors are ready to help connect residents with government and private organizations who are providing information and assistance.
    Gov. Mike Beebe issued state of disaster declarations for Faulkner, Pulaski and White counties Monday morning. The Arkansas Department of Emergency Management was on the ground assessing damage and establishing a protocol for assisting residents.
    “The destruction in these cities is devastating, especially since they have so recently rebuilt after the disasters of the 2012 oil spill in Mayflower and the 2011 tornado in Vilonia,” McDaniel said. “The Attorney General’s Office will continue to stand ready to assist them in any way possible.”
    McDaniel urged residents of the affected areas and those wanting to help in recovery efforts to be on the lookout for individuals who may try to financially benefit from the disaster.
    “Even as our first responders continue search and recovery efforts in the areas hardest hit by the storms, residents in outlying areas need to be prepared for scam artists trying to take advantage of them,” McDaniel said. “And as Arkansans, who have always had enormous hearts, look for ways to donate funds to the cause, they should make sure their money is going to reputable organizations.”
    McDaniel warned residents of the affected areas to beware of unscrupulous individuals known as “storm chasers.”
    These scam artists attempt to take advantage of storm victims by going door-to-door to offer repair or debris-removal services, typically offering inexpensive prices or other terms designed to entice homeowners to agree right away. But often the scammers demand money up front, sometimes taking a homeowner’s insurance claim payment, and then do not complete the promised work.
    Arkansans who are eager to lend their financial support to storm recovery efforts should make sure their charitable dollars are being used as promised.
    Before giving money to an unfamiliar charity, contact the Attorney General’s Charities Division of the Consumer Protection Division by emailing charities@ArkansasAG.gov.
    Safe ways to give
    Residents can donate $10 to American Red Cross disaster relief by using their mobile phone. Text the word “redcross” to 90999. Donations may also be made online at www.redcross.org.
    Checks may also be mailed to the Salvation Army Disaster Relief Fund, P.O. Box 738, North Little Rock, AR 72115-0738. Write Arkansas Tornado Relief on the check memo line. To donate $10 to the general disaster relief fund, text “STORM” to 80888. Donations may also be made by calling 800-725-2760.
    Page 2 of 2 - For more information about avoiding storm chasers or how to safely give to relief efforts, visit www.GotYourBackArkansas.org or contact the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division at (800) 482-8982.
    - GateHouse Media

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