New Tool Helps Consumers Track Accused Fraudulent Contractors - - The News for South Mississippi

New Tool Helps Consumers Track Accused Fraudulent Contractors

BILOXI (WLOX) -- If you are building or repairing a house, you now have access to a system that tracks suspected fraudulent contractors.

The state Attorney General's Office has set up a new web site, that provides a list of contractors who have been arrested for home repair fraud in Mississippi. The list includes the names of the people arrested, their company, and the status of their case. Some have already been convicted.

Since 2005, 80 people have been charged with home repair fraud or related crimes like embezzlement, false pretense, and wire fraud. Most of the arrests occurred this past year.

"We're hoping it'll be a preventive tool," said Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood. "It'll prevent anybody from doing business with these people, to be very careful if they're charged. We want information to get out through the media to people out there. If you're about to hire a contractor, you go to the list and see if there's one that has been charged."

Hood said the idea came about when he was doing a broadcast with Mississippi Public Radio. A caller from Jackson told Hood about the need for a quick reference guide.

Hood said the web site is an important resource for consumers.  He still urged Mississippians to take steps to protect themselves from fraud: get your contract in writing, get references and check them carefully, and don't pay any money up front.

By Trang Pham-Bui

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