FIRE SCAM WARNING: Scammers target fire victims
NORMAN, Okla. — The Oklahoma Attorney General’s office is warning recent wildfire victims to be aware of possible scams involving home repair.
They’ve prosecuted repair contractors in the past who follow disasters across the country to profit off the misfortune of others.
“They do a little bit of work, get some money up front, do some of the work and then get the rest of the money and leave,” Assistant Attorney General Tom Bates said.
Bob Hartsell stands in his daughter’s charred home in south Norman Tuesday.
He said she’s getting help from her insurance comapny; a great resource to identify reputable contractors.
He’s also contacting local builders he’s familiar with because non-local companies don’t always have the best intentions.
“They can come up with fake information and fake websites for you to look at,” he said. “I’d rather stay with somebody local and somebody you know.”
Bates said victims should ask friends for referrals and the contractor for customer references.
- Get written estimates from several companies.
- Get the contract, warranties and completion dates in writing.
- Be wary of door-to-door soliciting and those who offer discounts for finding other customers.
- Be especially careful of those who accept only cash, and payment up front.
- Never allow them to pressure you for an immediate decision.
- Bates also recommends keeping a log of who is on your property and what they’re doing.
- Get their ID and vehicle tag number.
You can also contact the Attorney General’s office and the Better Business Bureau for any complaints filed against a company.