On the anniversary of September 11, it is wise to remember all we lost … and to be on the lookout for fraudsters trying to take advantage of such tragedies. Here is some advice from the Federal Trade Commission.
Whether you’re getting ready to deal with the aftermath of the storms in the Gulf Coast, Laura and Marco, who are dealing with the ravages of wildfires in the West, tangled by derecho that hit the Midwest or facing another natural disaster, dealing with the aftermath is never easy. But when fraudsters target people who are just trying to recover, it can get even worse.
Here are some tips to help you avoid common post-disaster scams.
- Be skeptical of anyone who promises immediately decontamination and removal of debris. Some may quote outrageous prices, demand payment in advance or lack the skills needed.
- Look at them. Before you pay, ask for ID, licenses and insurance certificates. Do not believe in any promises that are not written.
- Never pay with bank transfer, gift card or cash. And never make the final payment until the work is done Done and you are satisfied.
- Protect your personal information. Only fraudsters say they are white-collar workers and then demand money or your credit card, bank account or social security number.
- Know that FEMA does not charge application fees. If someone wants money to help you qualify for FEMA funding, it̵7;s probably a scam.
- Be wise to rental fraud. Avoid people who say you should pay money or ask for a deposit or rent before you have met or signed a lease.
- Find disaster-related charities. Frauds often try to profit quickly from the misfortune of others. Check out the FTC’s advice on donating wisely and avoiding charity scams.
Colleen Tressler is one Consumer Education Specialist at the Federal Trade Commission.
Photo by John Middelkoop on Unsplash