It is always so hard for me to believe people can take advantage of people who are in a vulnerable position -- but it happens every single day.

FEMA and the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management have put out an alert for residents in Oklahoma to be on the lookout for fraud when it comes to home repair, business repair and damage cleanup.

Both agencies have said there are groups of people who travel from disaster to disaster to take advantage of people who have been impacted.  They try to capitalize on the chaos and fear in the situation to make a quick buck.  They, by the way, deserve a special place in you-know-where.

And, if you are a good and honest contractor -- you probably live every day trying to get your reputation exasperated from these fraudsters.  FEMA says to be suspicious of contractors who:

  • Demand cash or full payment before they start the job
  • Have no physical address or ID
  • Urge you to borrow money to pay for repairs then tell you to use 'their' lender
  • Ask you to sign documents on the spot without giving you time to review them
  • Want personal financial info from you to start the repair or lending process

Here are a few steps to take before you agree to any work:

  • Question - -a lot.  Demand to see ID.  Ask for references, then call other people who might know them and get references from them.
  • Do you research before borrowing money for repairs.  Compare quotes, repayment schedules and rates.  Don't sign anything you don't understand!