After any disaster, there's usually a second wave of problems that can occur in the form of what has become known as disaster fraud. People who want to contribute to the recovery are scammed by phony organizations, bogus emails, and fraudulent websites. And adding insult to injury, people who have suffered devastating home and property losses are often targeted by crooked contractors, fly-by-night home repair scammers, and identity thieves. That's not all: in the months after a disaster, thousands of flood-damaged cars make their way to the market duping unwary consumers. (See our prior post: Consumer alert: don't buy a flood-damaged car.)
Below, we're including an excerpt from our EAP's blog that offers useful links on common post-disaster charity and home repair scams. (For more resources, see their Hurricane Sandy Recovery Toolkit.
Sadly, there is no shortage of fraudulent opportunists willing to take advantage of people's generous nature. Be particularly careful of solicitations via phone, email, or social networking sites. The FTC Warns Consumers: Charity and Home Repair Scams May Appear After a Disaster. See the FTC Charity Checklist to get tips on how to avoid scams. You can also check out more a charity in advance through the Better Business Bureau's Wise Giving Alliance.
Disaster Recovery Scams - The FTC talks about common disaster recovery scams.
After a Disaster: Repairing Your Home - If your house has been damaged by a natural disaster, you may look for a reputable contractor to help with repair and restoration. Inevitably, the demand for qualified contractors after a disaster usually exceeds the supply. Enter the home repair rip-off artist, who may overcharge, perform shoddy work or skip town without finishing your job. This guide from the Federal Trade Commission the Federal Emergency Management Agency offers tips for consumers who may be facing major repairs after a disaster.
Disaster Fraud - The Coalition Against Insurance Fraud discusses post-disaster contractors and adjusters fraud.
Report Fraud: The FTC works to prevent fraudulent, deceptive and unfair business practices in the marketplace and to provide information to help consumers spot, stop and avoid them. To file a complaint or get free information on consumer issues, visit ftc.gov or call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357); TTY: 1-866-653-4261.