CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – Many people are doing anything they can to help the victims after Hurricane Ian impacted millions of people in Florida last week but you should watch out for potential scams.
Attorney General Ashley Moody is warning Floridians of price gouging, disaster scams and fraud in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian. Thousands of Floridians have been displaced by Ian and may be seeking food, shelter, debris removal or home repairs.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) offers warnings to consumers about schemes that target people who are recovering from a natural disaster. Here are some ways to help you avoid common post-disaster scams.
- Be skeptical of anyone promising immediate clean-up and debris removal. Some may quote outrageous prices, demand payment up-front, or lack the skills needed.
- Check them out. Before you pay, ask for IDs, licenses, and proof of insurance. Don’t believe any promises that aren’t in writing. Check with the local Better Business Bureau to see if they can shed any light on the practitioner’s reputation You can check a Massachusetts business license through the Division of Occupational Licensure.
- Never pay by wire transfer, gift card, cryptocurrency, or in cash. And never make the final payment until the work is done and you’re satisfied.
- Guard your personal information. Only scammers will say they’re a government official and then demand money or your credit card, bank account, or Social Security number.
- Know that FEMA doesn’t charge application fees. If someone wants money to help you qualify for FEMA funds, that’s probably a scam.
- Be wise to rental listing scams. Steer clear of people who tell you to wire money or ask for security deposits or rent before you’ve met or signed a lease.
- Spot disaster-related charity scams. Scammers will often try to make a quick profit from the misfortune of others. Check out the FTC’s advice on donating wisely and avoiding charity scams.