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Frequently Asked Questions - Avoiding Fraud
The Oklahoma Office of the Attorney General has created and is distributing the Oklahoma Disaster Scam Prevention Packet. Packets are available online.
The Oklahoma Office of the Attorney General has received reports of criminals called "Travelers" in tornado affected areas. With several tornado damaged areas opening up this weekend, AG investigators are very concerned that these fake contractors will begin targeting affected areas.
These con-artists travel from state to state, preying on storm victims' vulnerability. While several residents will want to clean their property, trim trees or begin to rebuild as quickly as possible, Attorney General Pruitt warns them to be alert of these criminals who pose as contractors. Do not agree to pay cash up front for the entire job and use local reputable businesses.
- Ask for referrals from people you trust
- Try to do business with local companies
- Request to see proof of certification and insurance
- Check out the repair service with the AG's Public Protection Unit and the Better Business Bureau
- Ask for customer references
- Get written estimates from several companies
- 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 in the contract
- Fraudsters often take advantage of the chaos following a disaster. When choosing a contractor to make repairs, check licensing and references before hiring. Always insist on a written estimate before repairs begin and do not sign any contracts before the adjuster has examined the damage. In some cases the adjuster will want to see the estimate before you begin making repairs.
- Do not pay a contractor the full amount up front or sign over your insurance settlement payment. A contractor should expect to be paid a percentage when the contract is signed and the remainder when the work is completed.
- If the contractor finds hidden damage that was not discovered in the original assessment by the adjuster, contact your insurance company to resolve the difference. For any disagreements that cannot be resolved, contact your state insurance department about your recourse.
Information available on the Public Protection Unit part of the Office of the Attorney General website includes a Disaster Scam Prevention packet.
You may call the Oklahoma Attorney General's Public Protection Unit at (405) 521-2029 or send an e-mail to email@example.com.
- Donate only to charities that you know and trust
- Be wary of charities that seem to have been formed specifically in response to a particular disaster
- Contact the Oklahoma Secretary of State to find out if the charity is registered in Oklahoma. Contact the SOS at (405) 521-3912 or search charitable organization listings online at www.sos.ok.gov/charity/.
- Ask for written information regarding the solicitor’s charity
- Listen carefully to the name of the charity. Scam artists often claim to be associated with a charity that mimics the name of a well-known organization
- Be wary of solicitors that use high pressure or aggressive tactics, ask for donations in cash or promise prizes
- Ask for referrals from people you trust
- Use local contractors
- Obtain written estimates and references
- Check out contractors with the Public Protection Unit or Better Business Bureau
- Make sure roofers are registered with the Construction Industries Board. You may contact the board at (405) 521-6550.
- Insist on a written agreement that includes all relevant details for the project
- Be wary of contractors who:
- Solicit door-to-door
- Require substantial up-front payment or request payment in cash•Use high pressure or aggressive sales tactics
- Resist the use of a written contract
In counties where the Governor or the President has declared a state of emergency:
- During the declaration of emergency and for 30 days thereafter, price increases of 10% or more on most goods and services are prohibited.
- During the declaration of emergency and for 180 days thereafter, price increases of 10% or more on dwelling units, storage space and goods related to home repair or restoration are prohibited.
- Common complaints:
- Food and Water
- Hotel Rooms and Apartments
- Rental Cars
- Building Materials