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Experts warning Oklahomans about possible scams in the wake of the tornadoes

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OKLAHOMA CITY - It is a sad reality that we see every time a disaster strikes; con artists attempt to target victims.

While cleaning up, you may receive an unsolicited knock at your door from a contractor looking for customers.

But how do you know which ones to trust?

The last thing you want is to become a victim of a man-made disaster.

On Thursday, anti-fraud investigators with the Oklahoma Insurance Department went going door-to-door, educating tornado victims like Jana Henson on how to hire a contractor after a storm.

“It's taken a lot off of me because I was going around in circles wondering where I was going to start,” Jana said. “I had no clue.”

Jana is hoping to avoid unsolicited visits from contractors.

The owners of Webb Roofing, Justin and Tara Parker, came highly recommended.

“They are definitely in my corner,” Jana said.

Most of the repairs to her home are cosmetic and she appears to be in good hands.

“My mom and dad went through May 20th and I've lived that,” Tara Parker said. “It's not just work for me. It's passion.”

Roofers must be in good standing with the state. Experts say you should verify their insurance and request their roofer ID number before hiring them.

Attorney 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.

Pruitt 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, the Oklahoma Construction Industries Board, 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.

Pruitt also said Oklahoma's Emergency Price Stabilization Act is now in effect for 25 Oklahoma counties after Gov. Mary Fallin declared a state of emergency.

The Emergency Price Stabilization Act is in effect for:

  • Caddo County
  • Canadian County
  • Carter County
  • Cleveland County
  • Comanche County
  • Creek County
  • Garvin County
  • Grady County
  • Lincoln County
  • Logan County
  • Love County
  • McClain County
  • Murray County
  • Oklahoma County
  • Osage County
  • Pawnee County
  • Payne County
  • Pontotoc County
  • Rogers County
  • Seminole County
  • Stephens County
  • Tulsa County
  • Wagoner County
  • Washington County
  • Washita County

Oklahoma’s price gouging statute prohibits an increase of more than 10 percent in the price of most goods and services during a state of emergency and for 30 days thereafter.

The act additionally is in effect for another 180 days for prices to repairs, remodeling and construction.

Oklahomans who suspect fraud related to storm-damage cleanup or repairs, or who experience price gouging, should contact the Attorney General’s Public Protection Unit at (405) 521-2029 or (918) 581-2885.

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