Attorney General Pruitt Warns Oklahomans about Fraud and Schemes Following Severe Storms
OKLAHOMA CITY – Attorney General Scott Pruitt Monday issued a warning for Oklahomans to beware of fraud and scams following this weekend’s severe storms. Pruitt said with the possibility of additional storms this week, residents need to stay aware.
“There is always a high probability for con-artists or ‘travelers’ to pop-up in the state following a storm, pushing quick-fix repair schemes and charity scams,” Pruitt said. “Oklahomans should be aware of such scams and tell family members, friends and neighbors to be alert.”
Scams typically involve clean-up, removal, home repair, tree trimming and fake charitable groups who take advantage of Oklahomans’ generosity.
“Home and business owners will want to quickly repair their property, but we urge them to be cautious and patient and to use reputable contractors,” Pruitt said. “Our Public Protection Unit investigators have prosecuted unscrupulous repair workers, commonly called travelers, who follow storms across the country to profit from the misfortune of others.”
General Pruitt cautioned Oklahomans to be wary of repair services and contractors who:
· Solicit for work door-to-door;
· 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.
The Attorney General’s Office suggests the following tips for choosing a proper contractor or repair service:
· 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.
General Pruitt said storm victims also should be aware of charity fraud and identity theft from lost documents carried away by the storms. Charity fraud can happen with local door-to-door solicitations or e-mails and phone calls from overseas con-artists.
“To avoid getting scammed, it is best to donate to an organization that is well-known and respected in the community,” Pruitt said.
For more tips and resources, go online to www.oag.ok.gov/oagweb.nsf/Consumer, visit the Attorney General’s Facebook Page or call the Public Protection Unit at (405) 521-2029.
Oklahoma Disaster Scam Prevention Packet.pdf