Attorney General Scott Pruitt said Oklahomans should be wary of criminals who stream into communities to target homes and businesses damaged by the recent tornadoes in the Tulsa area and wildfires in western Oklahoma.
Oklahomans should be mindful of scams involving cleanup, removal, home repair, and tree trimming, as well as price gouging after disasters. Oklahoma’s price gouging statute prohibits an increase of more than 10% in the price of most goods and services during a state of emergency and for 30 days thereafter, the attorney general said. The act additionally is in effect for another 180 days for prices to repairs, remodeling and construction. For tips to avoid fraud in the wake of disaster, please download a copy of the AG's Disaster Scam Prevention Packet below.
"After disasters, Oklahomans need to be cautious, patient, and particularly wary of criminals known as ‘travelers’ who target disaster-stricken communities to take advantage of those harmed by tornadoes, fires or other disasters.” Attorney General Pruitt said. “Whether it is travelers’ scams or price-gouging from unscrupulous businesses, my office will work to ensure that home and business owners have the essential information needed to protect themselves from further harm. If anyone thinks they have been scammed, they should contact my office immediately so we can take appropriate action."
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.
- Attorney General 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 Consumer 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.
Oklahoma’s Emergency Price Stabilization Act is now in effect for 18 Oklahoma counties after Gov. Mary Fallin recently declared states of emergency due to varying issues:
- Wildfires and drought conditions (March 28): Woods.
- Tornadoes and severe storms (April 1): Craig, Mayes, Nowata, Osage, Rogers, Tulsa and Washington.
- Wildfires and critical fire conditions (April 6): Alfalfa, Blaine, Creek, Dewey, Garfield, Grant, Harper, Logan, Major and Woodward.
Oklahomans who suspect fraud related to disaster cleanup or repairs, or who experience price gouging, should contact the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Unit at 405-521-2029 or 918-581-2885.