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Ohio AG warns of 'scammers who profit off of severe weather' following Dayton area tornadoes

Officials say "storm-chasing" contractors too often come to areas dealing with tragedy.

The cleanup continues following a series of Southwest Ohio tornadoes Monday night that left one dead and dozens of homes destroyed.

With citizens seeking help, state Attorney General Dave Yost is now issuing a very different kind of warning, this time about possible scammers.

"Already in the early aftermath of these storms, we’ve seen some of the best of humanity on display," Yost said in a statement. "Unfortunately, I expect the coming weeks and months will also bring out some of the worst: scammers hoping to make a quick buck off of those who’ve already lost so much."

In a press release Wednesday, the AG's office urged both those impacted by the storm and those looking to help to be on the look out for possible fake charities or home repair scams. Officials say "storm-chasing" contractors too often come to areas dealing with tragedy and take large sums of money claiming to complete repairs and clean up immediately, only to do a a poor job or no job at all.

When it comes to looking for honest contractors who will actually get the work done, these tips are suggested:

  • Research the business for relevant information or consumer reviews
  • Get multiple price estimates from at least three different contractors
  • Don't make large payments in advance, especially if it's at least half the total cost
  • Get a detailed written contract including specific work, cost, and start and end dates
  • Understand your cancellation rights, which normally give a customer up to three days to get out of a contract
  • Consider paying with a credit card, which would allow greater protection in disputing unauthorized charges

With charities, these tips can also be helpful:

  • Check the Ohio AG's Research Charities webpage for information about which charities are compliant with state requirements
  • View 990 forms, which most tax-exempt groups must file with the IRS
  • Support familiar, established charities, or research a group if it is unfamiliar
  • Ask friends or family about unfamiliar solicitations

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