Be wary of fraud after hurricane
In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, officials are warning citizens to be wary of home repair scams and other attempts to defraud consumers that often follow in the wake of storm destruction.
Warning signs that consumers should look for following severe weather include:
--Traveling salesmen who come knocking on your door after a disaster.
--High-pressure sales tactics and demands for an immediate decision.
--Demands for up-front payments.
--Advance-fee loans that “guarantee” a loan to rebuild your home or business.
Deal with established firms.
Be cautious before giving money to anyone.
Check to see if a contractor or tree expert is properly licensed.
Deal only with contractors who have an established business.
Obtain more than one bid for major repair work and check references. Be cautious if one bid is much lower than the others.
Make certain that all important details concerning the work are written into the bid and contract, including the dates the work will begin and be completed, the total cost, the type and quality of materials to be used, how and when payments will be made, and the provisions of warranties on materials and labor.
Phony relief efforts
People should also be wary of phony relief efforts, fraudulent charities and scam artists who use the name of an organization similar to a well-known charity. People should contribute only to organizations that they know and that willingly provide written information about their charitable efforts.
Consumers should avoid making cash donations and make checks payable to the organization, not the individual soliciting.
Check that a charity is registered with the state as required by law by contacting the Secretary of State’s Office online or by calling 304-558-6000.