EVEN BEFORE THE FLOOD WATERS SUBSIDE, ONE OF THE FIRST THINGS TO FLOAT ASHORE ARE SCAM ARTIST PRETENDING TO OFFER HELP
A. CONTRACTOR FRAUD
1. Beware of people coming to your home soliciting to do repairs.
2. Use local licensed contractors, ask for references and ask for a written estimate (get at least three).
3. Make sure the contractor carries liability insurance, workers comp and is bonded.
4. Get a written contract, and read the small print.
5. Pay by check, avoid payment in cash.
6. Never give the full payment, up front, for any contracted services.
B. POST DISASTER DONATIONS
1. Research fully the charitable organization
2. Call the charity directly and confirm the person asking for funds is an employee or volunteer. 3. DO NOT GIVE CASH. Write a check in the name of the charity, and get a receipt, never make the check out to a private individual.
C. STATE AND/OR FEDERAL AID
1. DO NOT REVEAL PERSONAL INFORMATION if you are unsure of person or organization.
* FEMA Contracted Inspectors call to schedule an appointment before visiting a home. They will wear a photo id and have the applicant's registration number and name. They will never ask for any type of payment.
2. You should never have to pay a fee for FEMA assistance. Federal workers do not solicit or except money.
3. FEMA inspectors only verify damage. FEMA inspectors do not hire or endorse specific contractors to do repairs.
D. Phone solicitors
1. Stay alert for phone solicitors who promise to speed up insurance, assistance or building permit process, or ask for large cash deposits or advance payments in full.
1. Do not give out bank account, credit card, social security numbers or any other personal information over the phone if you are not applying for FEMA assistance, or do not know who
you are speaking with. FEMA will get this information during the initial application process and will provide you with application number.
2. Disaster assistance can be applied for two ways.
*Calling 1-800-621-FEMA (3362), or
* on-line at www.fema.gov or www.DisasterAssistance.gov.
3. If in doubt about a local contractor make sure to check with local permit officials, builders associations and the BBB.
4. Be cautious of e-mails sent on-line that may state they can assist you with claims.
REMEMBER: IF SOMEONE OFFERS A DEAL THAT JUST SOUNDS TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE, IT PROBALY IS.