How hurricane season scams could affect you

How hurricane season scams could affect you

By Greg Collier

With the hurricane season just underway, there are expected to be up to 20 named storms in the Atlantic this year. While not all of the named storms will make landfall, there is still potential for storm related damage to affect those in hurricane-prone areas. If the devastation from the storms aren’t bad enough, damaging storms can also bring all sorts of scammers out of the woodwork. Some of these scams can affect you even if you don’t live in the storm-ravaged area.

If you do live in the storm area, you have to be aware of scam contractors. These are scammers claiming to be contractors who offer help to repair your home. According to the Better Business Bureau, these phony contractors travel from storm to storm, looking for victims. They’ll claim to be licensed, but they may not be licensed in your state. You should only deal with contractors that are licensed in your state. Another good way to avoid this scam is to get estimates from a few contractors. Also, you should never pay in advance as that could be an indication of a scam.

Another act of fraud that almost inevitably happens with natural disasters is price gouging. This is when businesses will start charging outrageous prices for items or services that are in demand during a crisis. One of the biggest areas of price gouging comes from hotels when people are trying to find emergency lodging. Not only could this price gouging happen in your area, but it could also happen in areas not affected by the storm as shady proprietors could be expecting an influx of people escaping the storm.

There are also charity scams to look out for. After every major storm, scammers will start posing as charities looking to pressure you into making a donation to them. These phony charities will often have generic sounding names like ‘Storm Relief Fund’ for example. If you want to financially help those affected by the storm it’s always a safe bet to donate to the Red Cross. You can also check the Better Business Bureau’s to see if the charity you want to donate to is legitimate or not.

Even if you don’t live in a hurricane-prone area, the area you live in probably has its own share of natural disasters. Whether it’s blizzards, floods, wildfires, tornadoes, or what have you, these scams will move into your area if a natural disaster occurs.