Avoiding scams and fraud after a natural disaster

After a storm, survivors are at risk of being victims of scams or fraud. Home repairs fraud and scam artists impersonating officials (FEMA, power company…etc) are just some of the ways that survivors may become targets as they recover from a storm.

It’s important to keep these tips in mind during recovery: 

  • Ask for official ID from anyone claiming to be from the government, power company or insurance company. All FEMA employees carry picture IDs with them.  

  • Do not pay for work upfront. Inspect the work and make sure you are satisfied before you pay. Make sure you have a written contract that details the work to be done and completion date.  

  • Avoid paying cash. Use checks or credit cards. Keep receipts.  

  • Watch for contractors who have no physical address or refuse to show ID.  

  • Beware of contractors who claim to be endorsed by FEMA: FEMA does not certify or approve contractors.  

  • Use contractors backed by reliable references. Demand that the contractor has liability insurance, workmen’s compensation, and is bonded.  

  • Check credentials and contact the North Carolina Attorney General’s office and Better Business Bureau to learn about any complaints against the contractor. Get the certificate of insurance directly from the insurance company and not from the contractor.  

  • Do not share personal information with anyone who contacts you that you do not know. Legitimate workers do not ask for social security numbers, bank accounts, or other personal information.  

  • Do not pay for disaster assistance applications. FEMA does not charge for inspections or help filling out applications.  

  • If your property has been damaged by a disaster, contact your insurance company first. Some insurance companies require the adjuster’s approval before work can be done.  

  • For car repairs, shop around and compare estimates. You are entitled to written estimates from the car mechanic for car repairs. 

Legal Aid may be able to help victims of scams and fraud after a disaster. We encourage survivors of Florence and Matthew to contact Legal Aid’s helpline at 866-219-5262 to learn if you qualify for Legal Aid’s services.

Avoiding scams and fraud after a natural disaster

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