Natural disasters can wreak havoc on your home, family and community. Rebuilding your lives while dealing with the aftermath of scammers attempting to leverage your unfortunate circumstances to their advantage can take your overwhelming situation from bad to worse. We are devoted to helping you protect your finances and get back on track after tragedy strikes, no matter where you are.
While you’re recuperating after a disaster, be on the lookout for these common schemes:1
- The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will never charge you to qualify for emergency funds. If someone contacts you claiming to be an official and asks for money in return for a FEMA application, it is likely a scam.
- Do not give out your credit card, bank account information, Social Security number or cash to individuals claiming to be an official offering help post-disaster. Anyone who claims to be an official and demands money is a red flag.
- Do your research on any company or person you’re interested in before hiring. This is key to working with skilled, adequate workers who will not charge you outrageous prices and skimp on the job. Always ask to see IDs, licenses, proof of insurance and a contract before making any payments. When in doubt, get everything in writing!
- Always pay using a check, credit or debit card. If someone asks you to pay by wire transfer, gift cards or in cash, they are probably trying to scam you.
- If the conditions of your home require you to rent a property in the wake of a disaster, be aware that some rental listings could be a scam. Scammers often offer properties that either do not exist or are not available to con renters into sending them money to cover their security deposits. By the time prospective renters find out the truth, it is too late to get their money back. Always meet the property manager and review and sign a lease before making any payments.
- Ensure any charity you’re donating to is legitimate. Fraudsters use charity scams to prey on the misfortune of others for profit. If you decide to support a cause, make sure to:
- Research the charity online first to know exactly who is receiving your donation and how it will be used
- Never pay by wire transfer, cash or gift cards
- Look out for scammers’ tricks, including pressuring you to contribute, disguising their phone number to appear as a local area code, using names similar to legitimate charities, claiming your donation is tax-deductible or offering sweepstakes winnings as compensation for your donation