Fraud a danger for property owners in wake of storms, Oklahoma officials warn

Oklahoma tornadoes: Insurance industry officials warn that con artists often prey on disaster victims.
by Don Mecoy Published: April 17, 2012
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Homeowners should inspect their property for damage as soon as it is safe to do so, and make temporary repairs to prevent further damage, such as stopping water leaks, Camoriano said.

He said property owners should keep receipts to ensure a record for the claim adjuster. Camoriano also reminded property owners to be watchful for con artists.

Following the storm

Attorney General Scott Pruitt also warned residents in storm-damaged areas to beware of home repair schemes and charity fraud that typically follow severe weather outbreaks.

“We know from past experience that this type of damage attracts criminals looking for ways to take advantage of Oklahomans,” Pruitt said. “We're getting the message out now so people can be aware of such quick-fix schemes and spread the word to neighbors and family members before they become victims.”

Pruitt said home repair and charity fraud are the most likely scams people will encounter.

“Within the next few days, home and business owners will want to repair storm damage quickly, but we caution them to be patient and make sure they are using a reputable home repair contractor,” he said. “Investigators with our Public Protection Unit have prosecuted unscrupulous repair workers ... who follow storms across the state to profit from the misfortune of others.”


by Don Mecoy
Business Editor
Business Editor Don Mecoy has covered business news for more than a decade after earlier working on The Oklahoman's city, state and metro news desks, including a stint as city editor. He has won state and regional journalism awards for business,...
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Also ...

Attorney general

provides advice

Attorney General Scott Pruitt suggested the following tips for choosing a proper contractor or repair service:

• Ask people you trust for referrals.

• Whenever possible, deal with local firms.

• Check out the repair service with the Attorney General's Public 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.

Attorney General Scott Pruitt cautioned people to be wary of repair services and contractors who:

• Solicit 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.

SOURCE: OKLAHOMA ATTORNEY GENERAL'S OFFICE

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