12 tips to avoid scams during and after a natural disaster

12 tips to avoid scams during and after a natural disaster
(Source: WALB)

BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Many times, natural disaster bring out the best in people as they work together to help each other recover, but unfortunately, some people take it as an opportunity to take advantage of people during hard times.

Ahead of potential damage from Cristobal, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) is warning residents about potential scams related to natural disasters and what to be on the lookout for during and after the storm.

DURING A DISASTER

  • Beware of charities that spring up overnight. Investigate before you donate. Check out a charity at www.bbb.org/charity.
  • Do not be pressured into making a donation right away. Legitimate charities will take your donation today, tomorrow, or next month.
  • Don’t provide personal or financial information, like your Social Security Number, bank account numbers, or credit card information to just anyone who solicits a donation. Make sure they are reputable first.
  • Don’t give cash. For security and tax record purposes, contribute by check or credit card or another way that provides documentation of the gift.

AFTER A DISASTER

  • Check with your insurance company about your coverage and their specific filing requirements
  • Although anxious to get things back to normal, avoid acting in haste. Don’t be pressured into signing a long-term contract. Make temporary repairs if necessary.
  • For major repairs, shop around for contractors, get competitive bids, and check references
  • Be wary of door-to-door workers. Check with your city or parish to find out about door to door rules and company licensing.
  • If possible, get more than one bid – bids should be in writing and should detail the work to be done, the materials to be used, and the price breakdown for labor and materials
  • Review any written agreement carefully before signing and keep a copy
  • Never pay in cash and never pay a substantial amount of the bid up-front
  • Never pay in full until all supplies and subcontractors are paid, eliminating a possible lien on your property

For more information, check a company’s record, or call the BBB at 225-346-5222. Visit the BBB’s website for more details as well.

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