OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. — Attorney General Mike Hunter warned Oklahomans to be careful choosing contractors to repair damage from this week's wintry weather.
Hunter said natural disasters tend to bring out criminals hoping to rip people off.
Criminals see things like ice storms as an opportunity to make money. They prey on people’s emotions and frustrations in a sinister pattern of behavior. They will go door-to-door, use high pressure sales tricks, require large amounts of cash up front to make repairs quickly or remove debris, among other tactics. I know it’s hard right now with a lot of people without power or wanting to get repairs made to get back to normal life. But I encourage Oklahomans to remain patient and be cautious when choosing a contractor. If someone does become the victim to contractor fraud, contact my office. We will do what we can to get their money back and prosecute the individuals committing the crimes.
The attorney general's Consumer Protection Unit offers advice to avoid contractor fraud:
- Ask for referrals from people you trust and for references from contractors;
- Avoid fly-by-night companies and use local companies established in the community;
- Obtain written estimates from multiple contractors;
- Ensure roofers are registered with the Oklahoma Construction Industries Board by calling (405) 521-6550 or check the online database;
- Be cautious of door-to-door solicitation, contractors who ask for a substantial up-front payment or request cash payment, use high pressure or aggressive sales tactics or resist the use of a written contract;
- Do not give out bank account information, social security or driver’s license numbers;
- If contractors identify themselves with a federal or state government agency, ask for credentials and call the agency they claim to be with.
Hunter reminds contractors and individuals the state’s Emergency Price Stabilization Act remains in effect for all 77 counties.
The price gouging statute prohibits an increase of more than 10 percent for the price of goods and services after a declared emergency, according to the attorney general's office. The act also allows the attorney general to pursue charges against individuals or businesses that engage in price gouging.
For more information or to report a complaint, contact the Consumer Protection Unit by phone at 405-521-2029, email at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the consumer protection website and fill out an online complaint form.
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