Dealing with the aftermath of a disaster is always difficult. Unfortunately, scammers will jump at the chance to take advantage of those who are trying to assess and recover from the tremendous damage that weather-related events, such as hurricanes, floods, wildfires, tornados, along with pandemic-related COVID-19 can cause.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) suggests a few ways to help avoid common post-disaster scams:
– Be skeptical of anyone promising immediate clean-up and debris removal. Some fake vendors will quote sky-high prices and demand payment up-front.
– Do a background check on them. Before you pay anything, ask for identification, licenses along with proof of insurance in writing.
– Never pay in cryptocurrency, wire transfer, cash or via a gift card. Only make the final payment until the work is completed satisfactorily.
– Always guard your personal identifying information (PII). “Only scammers will say they’re a government official and then demand money or your credit card, bank account or social security number.”
– Understand that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will never ask for an application fee. FEMA has provided over $1 billion to more than 165,000 people to assist with COVID-19-related funeral costs for deaths occurring on or after January. “If someone wants money to help you qualify for FEMA funds, that’s probably a scam.”
– Spot and report disaster-related charity scams. If you are fortunate enough to be able to help others, visit this link for advice on how to donate wisely and avoid charity scams.
For more information and other tips, visit https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/features/dealing-weather-emergencies
Be vigilant. Be strong. Stay in the know. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact our Member Services immediately. We are always available for you 24/7/365 at 888.966.GUARD (4827).
Photo courtesy credit to Kelly Sikkema via unsplash.com.