Findlay, Ohio -- If you were affected by the November 10 tornadoes and severe storms, be aware that some unscrupulous contractors may try to take advantage of you.
"If you have disaster-related damages, I urge you to be very careful when contracting for repairs," said Federal Coordinating Officer Ron Sherman of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
"Be especially alert for door-to-door solicitors who ask for large cash deposits or entire payments in advance," said State Coordinating Officer Dale Shipley of the Ohio Emergency Management Agency. "Often the work is never performed or the down payment is never returned."
Shipley also cautions residents not to sign contracts or make down payments without first receiving written estimates from contractors and to avoid offers which seem too good to refuse. He also advises people to ask for references and to check with relatives or friends before deciding which contractor to choose.
Shipley suggests that disaster victims call the Ohio Attorney General Betty Montgomery's Consumer Protection hotline at 1-800-282-0515 if they have concerns about people representing themselves as contractors.
Federal employees carry official photo identification. If someone poses as a federal employee, but does not produce identification, residents are urged to ask to see it.
"You should remember that federal workers and federal contract workers do not charge for their services," said Sherman. "If someone posing as a federal employee or federal contractor attempts to collect money for their help, report the person and their vehicle number to your local police department."