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Beware The Post Flood Scam

Disasters have a way of bringing out the best in people. Every time there is a flood or hurricane or a tornado, there are stories of charity, benevolence, and even heroism that surface, reminding us once again of the inherent goodness found in most of society. Unfortunately, there is a flip side to this concept, with unfortunate events bringing out the worst that humanity has to offer. We are of course, referring to the scammers and fraud artists who prey on people in their time of need or take advantage of their charitable hearts and giving nature.

You’ve all seen or heard the stories, and perhaps you’ve been the victim of one of these con artists. In the wake of a disaster, someone shows up on your doorstep (or what’s left of it) claiming to be a contractor who can do the repair work for you. They give you a quote, they present themselves well, they may even have a nice vehicle with a logo on it. It all looks good until you give them your deposit for the work, at which time they vanish and you never hear from them again.

Others might actually do some work on your home, but will keep squeezing you for money before eventually fading away. You will also find that the work they have done will be substandard and have to be redone by someone who actually knows what they are doing. Before you know it you are out several thousand dollars that by all that makes sense should have stayed in your pocket.

It is of course easy to get taken, since people are vulnerable following a storm and will take any opportunity to restore their property and valuables as soon as possible. Scammers know this and prey on it. Similarly, fake charities get set up to cash in on any disaster you care to name, promising that donations will be used to help the victims rebuild. People give out of the goodness of their hearts, but the only people benefitting are the scammers.

Fortunately, you can avoid becoming a victim. Ask any company who wants to work for you for referrals of local jobs they have completed, and then call those people. Check with the Chamber of Commerce and Better Business Bureau to see if the company is legit and if there are any complaints pending. You should also get multiple quotes for the repairs and insist on a written contract that spells out the work to be done, broken down by materials and labor. A reputable company will provide this…a scammer won’t work that hard.  Don’t make payments until the work has been completed, and report any suspicious activity to local law enforcement.

When it comes to charitable giving, the solution is simple: don’t give to any organization that you are not familiar with. Stick to recognizable names such as the Red Cross or Salvation Army. This ensures that the money you give will actually go to those in need.

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