After a natural disaster, it is not common for people who desperate for aid to be swindled by disaster relief scams. It is a sad state of affairs, but you must stay on the lookout for these bad actors. Con artists are constantly devising new schemes with which to relieve vulnerable people of their money, but there are also plenty of time-worn routines that the criminals have come to rely on. This post seeks to show you a few ways to spot a disaster relief scam.
Red Cross Scams
The Red Cross is a internationally known relief organization that always appears when disaster strikes. Con artists have come to rely on its trustworthiness and will play on that to scam disaster victims. If you receive an email from ″redcross.net,″ for instance, that email is certainly fraudulent. For instance, some will try to prey on your sense of humanity by telling you that a loved one has been arrested in Haiti. If you feel that the message may be valid, first confirm it through the official Red Cross offices or the US State Department. A good rule of thumb is to check up on any urgent solicitation. The Red Cross is a large organization that rarely is in an emergency financial situation.
Sometimes after a disaster con artists will masquerade as insurance agents, hoping to sell you peace of mind. They will claim to have supplemental insurance or policies that are too good to be true. Keep in mind that few, if any, legitimate insurance companies sell policies after a disaster, and fewer will pay claims on those policies. If an alleged insurance agent tries to pressure you to write a check, do some extra research to ensure that you are not being scammed.
Fake Construction Companies
Fly-by-night construction companies often spring up after a natural disaster to help you rebuild your home. They will promise low hourly rates and will quote an estimate that sounds great.
They might even back their claims by saying that they are charging less to help people out, or that they have so many crews working that they can afford to cut their rates. However, they may ask for money up front to purchase materials. Very often, these workers will go to purchase materials and never return. When you receive money from your insurance company, ask them if they can recommend any workers or a construction company.
If you need to eliminate water or smoke damage, seek an established, respected remediation company. You only get one insurance check, so don’t let the con artists get it!
At Rapid Dry Services, we provide immediate smoke, fire, water damage restoration, and disaster cleanup services to the greater Rochester area. For residential or commercial assistance, contact our 24/7 staff at 585-663-0510.