RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Over the weekend, an EF-3 tornado hit the Great Neck area of Virginia Beach, causing an estimated $15 million worth of damage to residents’ homes. But Virginians should be cautious if someone unfamiliar offers to help repair some of that damage.

“When severe weather hits, bad actors see an opportunity to prey on those desperate for repairs,” Virginia Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation’s (DPOR) spokesperson Kerri O’Brien said.

Scammers — sometimes called “storm chasers” — often try to make money by taking advantage of homeowners dealing with damage from natural disasters. The scammers may pose as contractors, but the Virginia Board for Contractors says there are easy ways to spot if someone working on your home can be trusted.

One way to protect yourself and make sure your home is in the hands of an expert is to check if the contractor is properly licensed. Virginia requires most contracting work over $1,000 to be done by a person with a state license. You can check this by using the DPOR “License Lookup” tool or by calling 804-367-8511.

But precautions don’t end with checking for a license. Ask your friends and family for references and don’t be afraid to ask your contractor questions about contracts, insurance, payment methods or prices that seem too good to be true.

“Avoid doing business with someone who requires you pay in cash or use an app to transfer money, refuses to offer you a contract in writing, or will not provide references or proof of their credentials,” O’Brien said.

For more tips on how to find a trustworthy contractor, visit the DPOR online.