LEE COUNTY, AL (WSFA) - Lee County residents are still in the recovery process as they try to clear debris and repair damaged homes following the March 3 tornadoes. Now, officials are reminding them to be careful with their money during this time and warns against scams.
Local and state government officials are speaking out against anyone looking to take advantage of storm survivors during their recovery process.
Lee County District Attorney Brandon Hughes said that he has personally investigated cases of price gouging at hotels and says that although he found no evidence of that to be the case, he wants everyone to know that officials will actively investigate any suspicious activity.
“Everybody’s looking for help and we’ve got a lot of people, like I said before, showing up wanting to help,” said Hughes. “But along with that, you’ve got people here posing to help, purporting to wanting to help our folks and help our people, but they’re here to take advantage. Whether its trying to steal money, whether its trying to enter into agreements rebuild, repair, take their money and leave. I tell you when there’s insurance money floating around like there’s going to be and like there already is, that’s an invitation for these folks to come here and want to do this.”
Lee County Sheriff Jay Jones said that if something seems off, report it and they won’t hesitate to investigate.
“We certainly solicit any information from anyone who was targeted by these unscrupulous individuals coming in here trying to take advantage of others,” Jones stated. “We encourage them to report to us any suspicious activities and we will certainly aggressively pursue the individuals in that regard and investigate it and turn those finding over to our district attorney for prosecution.”
Officials say that Lee County is one of only eight counties in the state to do countywide inspections, and say that there are a couple of things that you should look out for when hiring aid during this time.
“A contractor will ask you to pull a permit for him, don’t do it. They have a credit card sized license. It has their name, it has their file number. Ask to see their card. Ask for references and check them. Make sure the quotes are in writing and the contracts are in writing. Never pay upfront. Ask for proof of insurance,” says Home Builders Licensure Board Executive Director, Chip Carden.
Carden said that you can also verify you contractor’s license on the Home Builder’s Licensure Board website.
Anyone who would like to report suspicious activity can contact the Lee County Sheriff’s Office, District Attorney’s Office, Attorney General’s Office, or the Home Builders Licensure Board.