Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 17, 2011 – 4:30 p.m.
OEM Offers Tips on How Those Impacted by Severe Weather, Fire Weather Can Avoid Being Re-victimized
In the wake of a disaster or emergency incident, it is common to see the generous side of human nature. Unfortunately, the sinister side also shows itself all too often. That’s why the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management is urging residents and business owners to be aware of possible scam artists who often target victims during this stressful time.
On Thursday, tornadoes and other severe weather delivered damage in at least 26 counties across the state including the Tushka area where more than 100 homes and businesses were damaged by a deadly tornado. Recent days have also seen damage caused by high winds and wildfires.
In order to protect those impacted by this latest round of severe storms and fire weather, the following steps are recommended when hiring a contractor:
- Be extremely cautious of anyone coming to your home, business uninvited and offering to do repairs.
- Be alert to individuals canvassing your neighborhood in an unmarked van or truck.
- Insist on obtaining a written estimate or contract. Be sure the contract or business card has an address and telephone number.
- Ask for references and check them out.
- Don't be pressured into making a quick decision. Try to get three separate bids on the job.
- Insist on start and completion dates in the contract, and do not pay the final balance until the work is completed to your satisfaction. Be cautious in dealing with a contractor who asks for a large down payment.
- Ask contractors if they have done this type of repair work before, if they will be purchasing necessary permits, and if the work will be inspected. Be sure the contract spells out who will pay for any necessary permits.
- Avoid making final payment until you have received a lien release. Always pay for repair work by check or credit card in order to keep a record and avoid double charges.
- Be cautious of contractors who claim to be state or FEMA certified when, in fact, neither the state nor FEMA certifies or endorses contractors.
Anyone who suspects fraud is urged to contact the Oklahoma Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Unit at (405) 521-2029.