Oklahoma Tornado Victims Already Finding Scammers


Monday, May 18th 2015, 7:12 pm
By: News On 6


Contractors and restoration crews are already working to clean up storm damage after a tornado cut a path right through dozens of homes in one Broken Arrow subdivision.

But the Oklahoma Insurance Department is already operating its anti-fraud unit in the damaged areas and has a warning for homeowners needing help.

Deputy Commissioner Mike Rhoads said before anyone hires help, it's a good idea to call your insurance company first.

Less than 48 hours after a tornado hit, several homes are already empty and people can't get inside them unless they get a permit to start rebuilding.

5/18/2015 Related Story: Weather Service Rates Broken Arrow Tornado EF-2, Inola EF-1

Some homeowners, like Amber Haring, are waiting on insurance adjusters to assess the damage.

"I'm hoping it's soon and they can get them a check cut so they can get going on their rebuilding and stuff," she said.

Haring's family is staying in a hotel until repairs are made.

"We had a trampoline inside the garage; we had a trampoline in the front yard. On the top of the house there is, like when someone gets shot, it's like a big hole, and then if you go to the back it's shot out of the back of the roof," she said.

It's a different story for Brad Shirley who lives on the other side of the subdivision.

He said 45 minutes after the tornado touched down he got a knock on his door from someone claiming to be with his insurance company.

“For one, I don't have insurance right now, and two I haven't called anybody, so I just couldn't believe that someone, it doesn't even take an hour for people to start swooping in. And I didn't know what his ultimate plan was, but I made it clear that he needed to leave," Shirley said.

The Oklahoma Insurance Department said storm victims need to be vigilant, and Rhoads said homeowners should always call their insurance company and file a claim before anything gets fixed or cleaned up.

"Make sure that if somebody hits your doorbell and asks that, ‘you know we can take care of this damage for you and all we need is $600,' make sure there is no transaction, no monetary transaction until your insurance company comes out with that adjuster and begins that claims process," he said.

Some homeowners have even put no solicitation signs on their front doors.

For more information on the Oklahoma Insurance Department's Anti-Fraud Unit, you can call 1-800-522-0071 or visit their website.