Disasters can bring out the best of people, and the worst.
Disasters can result in neighbors, friends and even strangers helping each other through difficult times. But, just as we have seen throughout the pandemic, disasters also unleash scammers, who follow the headlines in pursuit of their next scheme.
How It Works
Following a disaster, scammers impersonate government agencies, calling with offers to help you apply for disaster assistance or conduct an inspection for a fee.
Scam contractors show up at doors in affected communities, offering to do post-disaster repairs on the spot, but only if you prepay.
Scammers raise money for disaster relief, but what they raise they keep for themselves.
What You Should Know
No government agency will require a fee to help you.
Legitimate contractors will not require you to pay for a job on the spot.
Scam charities often take on a name very close to legitimate charities.
What You Should Do
Hang up on callers claiming to be from the government; the government generally doesn’t work that way. If you get such a call, verify the phone number and use it to “return” the call.
Get at least three written estimates for any contracting work, and check references before hiring. If the contractor’s offer is for that moment only, walk away.