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  • Geebo 8:00 am on September 4, 2019 Permalink | Reply
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    States warn of hurricane charity scams 

    States warn of hurricane charity scams

    Hurricane Dorian has already devastated the Bahamas. It’s now threatening the East Coast with damaging wind and rains. Even though it’s been downgraded to a category 2 hurricane it’s still expected to cause major damage to Florida, Georgia, and the Carolinas. Victims of the hurricane, whether in the US or the Caribbean, will be looking to charitable donations to help rebuild what they’ve lost from the storm. While it’s always a good idea to donate to those in need you should always be careful about who you’re donating to. As we’ve been saying, natural disasters tend to bring out any number of con artists and scammers and they often tend to pose as charities.

    Both the Florida Attorney General’s Office and the Better Business Bureau are warning those willing to donate to not fall for phony charities. Robocallers will soon be hitting up unsuspecting people asking for donations for storm relief. They’re hoping that people are willing to pay the first person who comes along asking for money. Too often people are willing to do this. While the donators’ hearts are in the right place it doesn’t help those in need.

    Florida has set up the Fresh From Florida website to help you pick a legitimate charity. Meanwhile, the BBB has Give.org to guide you to the best charity suited for you and the victims of the storm.

    Some more tips to avoid charity scams include not paying a supposed charity with gift cards or wire transfers as these are the most common tools scammers use to take your money. Also, beware of crowdfunding sites that give vague statements about who the money is going to. If they something along the lines of the money is going to the ‘victims of Hurricane Dorian’ without citing a specific charity the odds are likely it is a scam.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on September 3, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: flood cars, ,   

    This hurricane scam could hit anywhere in the US 

    This hurricane scam could hit anywhere in the US

    While Hurricane Dorian may not make landfall in the Southeastern United States, that doesn’t mean that there won’t be damage to those areas. With hurricanes also comes the possibility of massive flooding. More people perish in hurricanes from water than they do from wind damage. And as we’ve mentioned before, whenever there is a natural disaster there will be scammers to take advantage of it. Previously we’ve discussed price gouging when it comes to hurricanes but that usually only affects people being directly impacted by the hurricane. There is another scam that can affect anyone in the United States.

    Whenever a hurricane causes widespread flooding a great number of cars and other vehicles will be totaled in the flood. Technically a flood car is not supposed to be sold intact unless it is marked so on the title. This has not stopped scammers from trying to sell these cars to unwitting victims. These vehicles are not just sold in hurricane-prone areas either as they can end up being sold anywhere in the country and years after the hurricane happened. In order to avoid buying one of these vehicles, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recommends avoiding cars being sold that claim to have ‘lost’ titles. You should also check for any kind of flood damage such as excessive rust, must odors, or mold.

    The NHTSA also recommends avoiding any robocalls about your vehicle if it was totaled in a flood. Instead, you should immediately call your insurance company to start the process of your insurance claim. If you suspect someone of trying to sell you a damaged flood vehicle you can report it to the FEMA Disaster Fraud Hotline toll-free at 866-720-5721 or at the FTC’s website.

     
  • Geebo 7:10 am on August 29, 2019 Permalink | Reply
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    State launches price gouging app ahead of hurricane 

    State launches price gouging app ahead of hurricane

    Hurricane Dorian is expected to make landfall in Florida as a Category 3 hurricane within the next few days. Governor Ron DeSantis has already declared a state of emergency in preparation for the potentially devastating storm. Whenever a hurricane is expected residents in the affected area will always be in a mad scramble for supplies and lodging that they might need during the emergency. Unfortunately, this can lead to price gouging with some vendors and hotels as they may look to take advantage of the situation. However, the Sunshine State has taken steps to try to combat price gouging.

    The Florida Attorney General’s Office has released a smartphone app called ‘No Scam’ that is designed to help Florida residents to report price gouging. The app is available on both Apple and Android phones. The app will allow residents to add pictures and copies of receipts from their phone speeding up the reporting process. Florida takes price gouging very seriously as those caught artificially inflating prices can be fined $1,000 per infraction and can be fined up to $25,000 in a 24 hour period.

    For whatever reason, if the app were to give you any kind of trouble you can still report price gouging to Florida’s Price Gouging Hotline at 1-866-966-7226, or their website at myfloridalegal.com. It is recommended that you either keep your receipt or take a picture of the inflated charge before submitting a report.

     
  • Geebo 9:14 am on October 23, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Hurricane Michael, phone service   

    Ajit Pai blames telcos for slow response after hurricane due to regulations he enacted 

    Ajit Pai blames telcos for slow response after hurricane due to regulations he enacted

    FCC Chairman Ajit Pai

    After Hurricane Michael recently struck Florida, many in the devastated areas were left without any kind of phone service. This was reminiscent to Hurricane Sandy in 2012 when many New York residents were left without similar capabilities. In both cases, the phone companies were slow to restore service. In 2012, Verizon was hesitant to restore landlines after the storm destroyed the lines. The Obama-era FCC instituted regulation in the wake of Hurricane Sandy that required service restoration by the telcos after natural disasters.

    Now, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai criticized the phone companies for not restoring phone service in Florida quickly enough after Hurricane Michael. But as Ars Technica points out, Chairman Pai is basically criticizing a problem that he created. Pai repealed the Obama-era requirement to restore service in 2017 claiming that the regulation prevented the telcos from upgrading their copper lines to fiber. This didn’t prevent Chairman Pai from criticizing Verizon, his former employer, from not responding fast enough to restore service in Florida.

    In my opinion, this is more evidence of how Ajit Pai acts like someone from the Ministry of Truth from George Orwell’s novel 1984. He says things to the public that are so blatantly untrue you have to wonder if he knows he’s lying or if he actually believes what he’s saying. For example when Pai claimed that the majority of Americans were opposed to net neutrality while the public was clamoring for the FCC to keep the protections in place. While I’m not prone to name calling, Ajit Pai is a joke and only has his position as a way to protect the interest of the telecommunications companies rather than the American people.

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on September 13, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: ,   

    The aftermath of hurricanes bring out scammers in its wake 

    The aftermath of hurricanes bring out scammers in its wake

    Hurricane Florence is set to make landfall in the Carolinas either late today or early tomorrow. Even though the storm has been downgraded to a Category 2 storm, it is still set to create a lot of property damage in the affected areas. Whether it’s through flooding or wind damage, residents in the path of the hurricane could be facing a long road back to restoring their homes to habitable conditions. Unfortunately, there will also a number of con artists looking to take advantage of people who have been negatively impacted by the tragedy.

    For people living in the storm-damaged areas, people claiming to be contractors will be coming out of the woodwork, so to speak, trying to pressure you into having them fix your home. While you may want to have your home back to normal as quick as possible, never let someone pressure you into making a deal. Always do your research and make sure that any contractor has the proper license. Also never pay cash, never pay up front, and be wary of anyone who just shows up at your door offering to make repairs.

    For people living outside of the hurricane zone but want to help the victims of the storm, be aware of who you’re donating to. Charity scams tend to be the other big scam that happens alongside a natural disaster like this. Make sure you know exactly who you’re donating to. Don’t ever make donations in gift cards or by wiring money as these are the most used methods by scammers to take your money. Also be wary of crowdfunding sites that give vague generalities about where the money is going to. If the site claims to be going to the ‘victims of’ whatever disaster happened most recently. It could just be a scammer trying to make some money off of tragedy.

     
  • Geebo 9:07 am on September 12, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , north carolina, , ,   

    Price gouging a real concern during a hurricane 

    Price gouging a real concern during a hurricane

    With the impending arrival of Hurricane Florence looking to be a storm of a lifetime event in the Mid-Atlantic, three states have declared states of emergency. Those states being South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia. The hurricane is expected to make landfall in one those states later this week. To make matters worse, whenever a hurricane is set to hit an area, there are usually those whose intent is to make a king’s ransom of profit over helping those in need during a time of crisis.

    Price gouging is when a merchant or lodging provider charge an exorbitant amount for their goods or services during a crisis when need is in high demand. Thankfully, the three states mentioned, all have laws in place to prevent price gouging when a state of emergency has been declared. With so many people looking for supplies, fuel, or alternative lodging, it’s refreshing to see governments looking to make sure that people in need aren’t being taken advantage of.

    However, that doesn’t mean that price gouging won’t occur. For example, if you were to leave the area where an emergency has been declared, you may be at the mercy of an unscrupulous vendor. If you live in South Carolina and evacuate to Georgia, where a state of emergency has not been declared, you may see an exorbitant price increase for food, gas, and lodging. If you are in a state that has declared an emergency some vendors may still take to price gouging in defiance of the law. If that is the case, these articles from North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia all have the information you need to contact the proper authorities.

    To everyone who is facing the wrath of this potentially devastating storm, please stay safe.

     
  • Geebo 10:10 am on September 11, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Hurrican Irma,   

    Florida suffers price gouging in wake of Hurricane Irma 

    Florida suffers price gouging in wake of Hurricane Irma

    Before Hurricane Irma even made landfall in Florida, the state Attorney General’s office received over 8,000 complaints about price gouging. In what has unfortunately become the norm during natural disasters, some retailers took it upon themselves to raise the prices on such necessities as gas, food, water and lodging. Some reports have indicated that some gas stations in the affected area raised their prices to $8 a gallon during the evacuation period. While some may call this just a simple case of supply and demand, price gouging like this is illegal in Florida and the Attorney General has been serious about fining infractions.

    Violators can be fined $1,000 per infraction and can be fined up to $25,000 in a 24 hour period. Now, with the devastation in the area becoming even more widespread, price gouging is even expected to rise. The way the state determines price gouging is that they compare prices from 30 days prior to the date of the infraction and see if the price has been raised in an outrageous fashion.

    If you feel a retailer is taking advantage of the Hurricane you can report them to the state’s Price Gouging Hotline at 1-866-966-7226, or their website at myfloridalegal.com. It is recommended that you either keep your receipt or take a picture of the inflated charge before submitting a report.

     
  • Geebo 9:01 am on August 29, 2017 Permalink | Reply
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    Beware of scams in the wake of Hurricane Harvey 

    Beware of scams in the wake of Hurricane Harvey

    Natural disasters like Hurricane Harvey often bring out the best in humanity with many people donating time, money, resources and even blood to help the victims who have been ravaged by the storm. Unfortunately, it also brings out the worst in humanity with people trying to not only scam the victims of the storm, but those who are willing to open their hearts and wallets to the victims.

    Victims of the storm need to be aware of fake contractors offering to repair their homes. A lot of people will approach storm damaged homes claiming to be contractors, however, almost anyone can claim to be one. Avoid paying contractors up front in full and try to stick with with people you know or people who have been recommended to you. Displaced storm victims also have to be aware of rental scams as well. As usual, don’t ever wire money to a prospective landlord and don’t trust anyone who won’t let you see the property first before renting.

    Lastly, for those of you wanting to donate to relief funds for the victims, be careful for a number of scams looking to take advantage of you. Stick with known charities like the Red Cross. The City of Houston also has its own relief fund you can donate directly too.

    Being a smarter consumer not only helps the victims of the hurricane but will also help keep these scams from propagating in the future.

     
  • Geebo 10:04 am on October 21, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , hurricane matthew, ,   

    Beware of hurricane work scams 

    Beware of hurricane work scams

    When huge disasters happen in our country it usually unites us in aiding those affected by the calamity. While they can bring out the best in us these disasters can also bring out the worst in us as it gives scammers and con artists a new opportunity to take advantage of our willingness to help.

    One of those disasters from recent times was the Deepwater Horizon oil spill that dumped millions of barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico for 87 days. Once the spill was contained many workers were needed to help clean up the spill and reclaim the environment. Online ads started popping up promising paying jobs to help clean up the spill. However, a lot of these jobs turned out to be scams that left people stranded without money.

    In that vein, a man from Wichita, Kansas, recently came across a similar scam involving Hurricane Matthew. Matthew did a lot of damage from Florida to the Carolinas and the Wichita man saw an ad that was offering work to help repair the damage done to the Southeast. When the man called the number in the ad the man on the other side of the line asked for $100 for transportation but the man would need to find his own job once he got there. Luckily, the man realized that this was a scam before he lost any money.

    To keep yourself safe from these scams just keep in mind that no legitimate employer will ever ask you for money up front. A lot of these scams will ask for a processing fee, a background check fee, or a drug test fee. If any potential employer asks you for any of these, it’s a good indicator that it’s a scam and there is no job.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on October 18, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: snow, , ,   

    Con men use snowfall to try to fleece victims 

    Con men use snowfall to try to fleece victims

    Scammers are notorious for trying to take advantage of people after a natural disaster. One of the more common times this happens in the US is right after a hurricane. There are so many hurricane-related scams that they are almost a state of emergency themselves. But did you know scammers can use even seasonal weather occurrences to try and take money from unsuspecting victims? They do as one city in the Pacific Northwest recently found out.

    Recently, many western parts of the United States experienced an early snowfall. Some areas received just a light dusting while others experienced up to a foot of snow. Spokane, Washington got hit pretty good by the snow leading to many downed tree branches which can cause headaches for the city’s electrical infrastructure. Loss of power could mean loss of heat as well for many households. Scammers took advantage of this anxiety by posing as the local power company and calling residents to tell them that their power was in danger of being shut off if they did not pay a fee. One person who received one of these calls didn’t believe the call was legitimate and said that she was refusing to pay. She was then transferred to another person who claimed to be a manager.

    The power company in Spokane said that they always send out paper notices through the mail before terminating someone’s service. That probably goes for most utility providers as well. If you receive a call like this no matter where you live, hang up and call your local utility company to make sure that your account is actually in good standing. And while it’s not mentioned in this particualr story, never make any payments over the phone using any kind of gift card as this is almost guaranteed to be part of a scam.

     
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