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CONSUMER ALERT: CHOOSE A REPUTABLE ROOFER

LITTLE ROCK - Attorney General Dustin McDaniel recently won court judgments against two roofing companies that defrauded Arkansas homeowners and violated state law.

These companies engaged in similar, illegal tactics, despite one being a multistate corporation based in Georgia and the other being an operation based locally. It is those kinds of tactics that homeowners should avoid, McDaniel said. Thus, McDaniel issued this Consumer Alert today to warn Arkansans about the business techniques often used by disreputable roofers.

"These companies were ordered to stop doing business in Arkansas, and that's good news for homeowners, but consumers should continue to be vigilant in their selection of a roofing contractor," McDaniel said. "As shown by these lawsuits, unscrupulous businesses will go to exhaustive lengths to take consumers' money and fail to complete their promised work. We are pleased to have been successful in our efforts to stop these practices."

American Shingle and Siding, Inc., based in Atlanta, was ordered by a Pulaski County circuit judge to cease operations in Arkansas and pay civil penalties and restitution, in an order issued earlier this month. Likewise, Conway Roofing and owner Michael J. Wickherst were ordered by a Pulaski County circuit judge also cease operations and pay penalties and restitution. American Shingle is now in bankruptcy. Wickherst was convicted on criminal charges related to his business practices in Faulkner County.

Another lawsuit filed by McDaniel against a roofer that engaged in the same type of business practices, Razorfast Roofing of Fayetteville, is pending.

All the companies worked under the same model: The roofers would canvass neighborhoods or call homeowners in areas ravaged by storms. They would pledge to install new roofs in exchange for the homeowners' insurance proceeds. Once the insurance money was in hand, though, the companies either unreasonably delayed the start of the repair work or failed to complete the jobs at all.

McDaniel offered this advice to consumers who are considering selection of a roofing company:

*Never turn over insurance proceeds directly to a contractor. Do not provide full payment for roofing repairs until the work is finished.

*Use caution when selecting a roofer that is going door-to-door through storm-damaged neighborhoods, and keep in mind that door-to-door solicitors must follow the Arkansas Home Solicitation Sales Act. That Act gives homeowners the option to cancel any contract, for any reason, within three business days after the sale if the sale is made in the home or at a location that is not the seller's permanent place of business. Consumers must be provided full refunds.

*Check with the Better Business Bureau, www.bbb.org. The bureau may have information about the roofing company and its track record.

*Be sure to verify the roofer has a state contractor's license. Any contractor doing improvements that cost more than $2,000 must be licensed by the Arkansas Contractor's Licensing Board. Visit ww.aclb.arkansas.gov.

*Ask people you trust for recommendations, and consider getting several estimates before choosing a roofer.

For more information, contact the Consumer Protection Division of the Attorney General's Office at (501) 682-2341 or (800) 482-8982 or visit GotYourBackArkansas.org.

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