Scams are often the furthest thought from the mind of a homeowner in the wake of disaster—and fraudsters time and again use this vulnerability to their advantage, preying on those impacted. Common post-disaster fraud practices, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), include:
- Bogus Pleas for Post-Disaster Donations
- Fake Offers of State or Federal Aid
- Fraudulent Building Contractors
- Phony Housing Inspectors
To avoid hiring a fraudulent building contractor for repairs, look for licensed local contractors backed by reliable references. Demand that contractors carry general liability insurance and workers’ compensation, and don’t pay more than half the costs of repairs upfront.
To avoid hiring a phony housing inspector, who may claim to represent FEMA, verify that the inspector has your nine-digit registration number (given to all disaster relief applicants). Keep in mind FEMA inspectors never require banking or other personal information, and that they do not hire or endorse specific contractors to fix homes or recommend repairs. They also do not determine eligibility for assistance.
Published with permission from RISMedia.