Signs to look out for when dealing with damage repair scams

Signs to look out for when dealing with damage repair scams

LAWTON, Okla. (TNN) - In the midst of storm season, people across Oklahoma may be in need of help fixing wind and hail damage caused by the recent storms.

But when the storms come, often times the scammers arrive as well.

“The biggest issue is that if your house is destroyed, you are in shock, so you aren’t in a good position to negotiate a good consumer deal," said Kade McClure, the managing attorney at Legal Aid Services.

McClure said some things people should look out for are obvious, like checking for licensing, getting references and signing a contract.

McClure said the most important thing involves the actual payment process.

“Don’t pay up front. They may put the hard move on you and say well I need such and such money right now, and if you give them some money, and somebody gives them some more money before they come back, they may never come back,” said McClure.

One group Kristina Manriquez from ASCOG said is typically targeted is senior citizens.

She said it’s just been one day after the severe weather hit across the state and her clients were already calling her to ask questions about people offering services.

“I got 6 calls today because apparently people were going around and offering free storm shelters that Medicare was going to pay for. Medicare does not pay for that and I don’t know of any program that randomly gives them away,” said Manriquez.

Manriquez said seniors tend to be easy targets because they typically are more trustworthy and polite, and because they want to solve problems on their own, and don’t want to seem like they need help.

“We need our elders to really practice a healthy dose of skepticism,” said Manriquez.

McClure said there are a few questions you should ask anyone offering damage services, and if they can’t answer them then there’s a good chance they can’t do the work they may be offering for cheap.

“Do they have a business, do they have an address. Have you ever heard of them, and that might not be the case in a widespread disaster.”

McCLure said it’s always a bad sign when people come to your door soliciting you.

If you are concerned about the workers attempting to do repairs on your damaged property, call the Better Business Bureau and ask them to check on the business.

And for seniors who’ve had storm damage to their property, Manriquez said to reach out to their offices, or on Facebook, because now is the time when they should be on alert.

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