State and federal officials are warning flood and tornado victims about scams operated by fraudulent contractors.
Attorney General Tom Miller said that flood- and storm-damaged areas can be "a bit of a magnet" for fraud because so much repair and construction must be done and there's generally not enough local contractors to do it.
"People are desperate to get things fixed and get back in their house and get their life in order, so fraud artists do come to these kinds of situations because they know people are vulnerable," Miller said during a telephone interview with The Associated Press.
He added: "It's adding insult to injury, the enormous injury of the flood ... for people to have fraud committed against them."
There were only isolated incidents of fraud reported to authorities during the emergency response to the widespread flooding in Iowa, but Miller said "now is where the real opportunity begins for those that would commit fraud - in the repair and reconstruction of homes."
Miller was joined by local and federal officials at a news conference in Cedar Rapids on Tuesday morning.
Among them was U.S. Attorney Matt Dummermuth, who warned storm and flood victims about sharing personal information.
"Watch out for people who may try to steal your identity by asking for your FEMA registration number or Social Security number," he said in a statement.
The officials advised tornado and storm victims not to sign anything or put down any money until they're certain they are hiring only established, reputable contractors. They should get estimates in writing and make certain there is a written contract for the work to be performed.