Oklahoma City, OK – Attorney General Drew Edmondson is warning Oklahomans impacted by yesterday's storms to be on the lookout for frauds and scams. Edmondson said home repair schemes and charity fraud typically follow in the wake of weather damage.
"We know from past experience that this type of damage attracts shysters looking to make a quick buck," Edmondson said. "We're getting the message out now to make people aware. It's far preferable to prevent fraud because catching these con men is difficult."
The attorney general said home repair and charity fraud are the most likely scams Oklahomans will encounter over the coming days.
"The last thing we want is for someone victimized by mother nature to be victimized again by a home repair scheme," Edmondson said. "It's understandable to want the damage repaired quickly, but we are cautioning Oklahomans to exercise patience and caution when choosing a home repair contractor."
Edmondson gave the following tips for choosing a contractor or repairman:
Ask people you trust for referrals
Whenever possible, deal with local firms with roots in the community
Check out the repairman with the attorney general's Consumer Protection Unit and the Better Business Bureau
Ask for customer references
Get written estimates from several firms
Don't do business without a written contract
Get all guarantees, warranties and promises in writing
Agree on start and completion dates and have them written into the contract
The attorney general cautioned Oklahomans to be wary of repairmen and contractors who:
Offer discounts for finding other customers
"Just happen to have" materials left over from a previous job
Accept only cash payments
Pressure you for an immediate decision
Ask you to pay for the entire job up-front
Edmondson also cautioned Oklahomans to be careful when making monetary donations to assist neighbors impacted by the storms.
"Charity fraud is always a top concern following storms," Edmondson said. "The threat can come from local door-to-door solicitations or emails and phone calls from overseas con artists. Donating to an organization that is well-know and respected in the community is the best way to combat this type of fraud."
Edmondson offers a charitable giving guide to help Oklahomans ensure their hard-earned cash is headed to a legitimate charity. His "Give to the Needy, Not the Greedy" guide provides tips for giving and questions to ask solicitors. The guide is available at www.oag.ok.gov.
The attorney general's office has also reached out to Oklahoma law enforcement officials, offering any assistance needed.
"We've been in touch with law enforcement officers in the storm-damaged communities to offer our help and manpower should it be needed," Edmondson said. "Oklahoma law enforcement is a tight-knit group and we stand ready to do our part."