Lufkin Police warn against tornado scammers

LUFKIN, TX (PRESS RELEASE) - Lufkin Police want to warn all residents, particularly those in the areas and neighborhoods affected by the recent tornado to be alert for scammers who are in town trying to solicit repair of cleanup business.

Many people and businesses are posting signs and going door to door soliciting work for home repairs and/or debris cleanup in the affected areas.  Some of these people are unscrupulous businesses or outright frauds who will ask for money up front and leave town without doing the work.  "One common scam technique is for the solicitor to comment on how much work is to be done in the area and ask for payment up front to secure the work" said Dale Allred, head of the Inspections Department for the City of Lufkin.  "Then they'll leave with the money and not do the work.  Some homeowners will be desperate to get the repairs done and may be more susceptible to falling for this" said Allred.

The Lufkin Police Department offers the following tips to home or business owners who have someone soliciting for repair or cleanup work.

Never pay cash up front.  Obtain at least three estimates before agreeing on a contract.

Make sure a city permit has been issued and prominently posted at the work site before any structural repair work begins.

"Ask all door to door solicitors for a city permit.  If they can't provide one call Lufkin Police at 633-0356 and report them.  Strict enforcement will help us protect our citizens from scammers" said Lt. David Young with the Lufkin Police Department.  Police will be strictly enforcing the city ordinance requiring door to door solicitors to have a permit.

Residents may call City Inspections at 633-0248 to see if a contractor is in the city's system and has done permitted work in the city before.  The city cannot recommend any contractor but residents can check to see if the contractor they are considering has worked under a city permit before.

Contractors are only permitted to put one advertising sign in the yard of a home and only after an agreement has been reached with the homeowner.  Signs may not be posted on utility or sign posts and any sign placed in the public right of way will be removed by city employees.

Homeowners are encouraged to make sure they are dealing with a reputable contractor before signing any contract or beginning any work.  The Better Business Bureau is another resource that can be used to check out a business' history.