Scammers Target Vulnerable People After Disasters
Scammers target the most vulnerable people after a disaster, hoping to take advantage of them. The FTC warns consumers about these scams and offers precautions to avoid becoming a victim.
The recent string of natural disasters across the United States has left many people vulnerable, especially aging parents who may be far away from family. When disaster strikes, scammers see opportunity. They can move fast and get to your loved ones while they are still dazed and feeling lost. The Federal Trade Commission has issued a warning of what to watch for and how to avoid the opportunists who are targeting your aging loved ones and others.
Some of the key points that the FTC warns against are things like: -Making false or unsubstantiated claims -Failing to disclose important information -Engaging in unfair or deceptive practices In essence, the
As we all know, unfortunately, there are many scams out there, preying on people who are vulnerable. One type of scam that is particularly dangerous is the clean-up and repair scam. This is when someone pretending to be a contractor offers to do quick repairs, clean-up, or debris removal, often after a natural disaster. They may demand upfront payment, but then not do the work, or they may quote outrageous prices. This is a huge problem, especially for older adults who may not be as suspicious of these offers of help. That's why it's so important for their adult children to be aware of this type of scam and help protect them from it.
As a news article, I would recommend that readers take the time to check out contractors before hiring them. Ask for IDs, licenses, proof of insurance, and references. Get all their contact information and match it with what you can see on the internet. Contractors’ licensing boards list licensees publicly on their websites. By taking these precautions, readers can be sure they are hiring a reputable and licensed contractor.
After a disaster, it's important to get multiple estimates for repairs or cleanup. Don't just go with the first person you find. Ask around for recommendations and get bids from multiple contractors. This will help ensure you get the best possible service and the best value for your money.
No matter what type of work you're doing, it's always important to have a written contract in place. This contract will outline the scope of work to be done, as well as any deadlines or other important details. Be sure to read the contract carefully before signing it, and if anything is unclear, get advice from someone who knows about contracts before you sign anything.
It's important to always use a form of payment that leaves a record when hiring a contractor. This will ensure that you are protected in case of any issues with the work that is done. Paying in cash is not recommended, as it can be more difficult to track expenses and get a refund if necessary.
The ability to distinguish something that "smells bad" from a legitimate offer of work erodes with folks who have memory loss. Supervise all transactions if you are a family with aging loved ones at risk for these scams.
Government officials, safety inspectors, and utility workers are often the first responders to natural disasters. However, be suspicious of anyone who claims that immediate work is required. Insist on seeing IDs with government or company addresses on them. Thousands of people are affected by natural disasters and "immediate" work is not likely to be feasible or needed unless you ask for it yourself.
Never give out personal information or money to someone just because they ask you for it. If anyone wants your financial information, like your bank account or credit card number, it’s a scam. Don’t be fooled by someone who pretends to be a friend or authority figure – always verify who you’re talking to.
As the aftermath of hurricane Ian continues, it is important to be aware of the potential for fraudulent activity. Unfortunately, there are always people who will take advantage of those who are vulnerable, and families who have already been impacted by the hurricane are especially at risk. However, by remaining vigilant and warning loved ones of the dangers, it is possible to outsmart the thieves and protect those who need it most.