Georgia officials warn against storm damage scammers

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It's been one week since a powerful storm system tore through Alabama and central Georgia. 

The system spawned tornadoes that claimed 23 lives in Alabama's Lee County and caused massive damage to the Georgia counties of Talbot, Grady, and Harris.

The Red Cross reports there are more than 400 damaged homes in those areas, with 192 classified as having major damage and 292 classified as having some storm damage.

That's why Georgia's Insurance Commissioner Jim Beck is warning homeowners to be on the lookout for scammers.

Beck is sending out a word of warning as the state enters the spring storm season: take a moment and ask questions about anyone who offers to work on your property.

He's been spending time in Talbot and Harris counties, making sure the help is above board.

"We are trying to remind people to be careful, if folks come up to them and approach them about doing contracting jobs, you will have folks in a storm like this come from all over," Beck said.

The commissioner says workers have come as far away as Louisiana this week, offering to help clean up yards and homes. While not all help is bad, Beck says fly-by-night contractors can sometimes leave homeowners with bigger problems in the end.  

"So what we want to make sure of is that they deal with a reputable contractor," he said. "I know when you are under stress and trying to make that decision, it can be very stressful, but at the end of the day, be safe and pick the right contractor that is going to treat you right." 

His best advice? Ask lots of questions, ask for quotes in writing, and ask to see proof of insurance.

Beck says his office is just a phone call away, but after any storm, you should make sure you aren't victimized twice.