How To Avoid Post-Hurricane Scams In Florida
Florida’s hurricanes wreak havoc on people’s lives and their property whenever they pass through. The effects can be catastrophic at times, and leave property owners scrambling to repair their homes and businesses in many more cases. In the aftermath of a hurricane, Florida homeowners often find themselves juggling different tasks to get their lives back on track. These include finding a safe place to say, making urgent repairs to their property, and beginning the insurance claims process.
One important task in the days or weeks after a hurricane is to watch out for fraudulent activity and scam artists. One of the sad realities of life in Florida is that just as surely as hurricanes and severe storms will happen, fraudsters soon follow with roof-repair scams and other tactics to defraud innocent homeowners.
After a storm, scammers will contact property owners offering property repairs, tree removal services, and other repair-related schemes. They might also promise emergency grant funding, or some other financial incentive to get innocent people to take the bait. They will perpetrate their scams in any number of ways – by mail, phone, text, email, or social media. They will even have the nerve to go door to door offering services that they now are illegitimate.
Some steps homeowners can take to avoid becoming fraud victims after a hurricane include:
- Be wary of those offering immediate fixes and debris removal services. Often, scammers will take advantage of a person’s desperation to make urgent repairs to their property. They might quote high prices and demand immediate payment, then never return to complete the work. Before paying someone to work on your home, make sure to check their credentials and reviews, as well as any identifying information they have. It is a red flag if a contractor can’t provide this information right away.
- Don’t give sensitive personal information over the phone. In almost any situation, it is better not to give banking information, credit card numbers, social security numbers, or other sensitive data over the phone to somebody you haven’t met. This holds true especially after a hurricane, when scammers will call residents of a hard-hit area to offer assistance while stealing their information.
- Donate only to trustworthy, publicly known charities. After a storm, scam artists will create fake charities to coax well-meaning people into paying into something fraudulent. Make sure you only donate to charitable organizations with a track record of providing legitimate services. A legitimate charity will be able to provide you with verifiable information and documentation upon request. It is also important to verify information before donating to a private fundraising drive through Go Fund Me or similar websites.
- Don’t pay by cash, wire transfer, or gift card for promised services. A reputable contractor will accept a partial payment up front and a final payment after work is completed. If they demand full payment up front – especially if they demand payment by cash, wire, or some other immediate form – you should decline and look elsewhere.
- Report any fraudulent activity if you believe you’ve been targeted. If you feel you’ve been targeted by a scam or fraud, you should report the scam to local law enforcement so they can investigate and notify others. You can also report suspicious activity to the National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) via their hotline at 866-720-5721 or their online complaint form.
Our Florida Property Damage Attorneys at Bundza & Rodriguez, P.A. Are Here to Help You After a Hurricane
A hurricane and its aftermath can be the most devastating event a property owner encounters. The post-storm cleanup often brings predators seeking to scam and defraud innocent homeowners. It is crucial to be aware of all options and know how to prevent scams from happening after a hurricane. The Daytona property damage insurance attorneys at Bundza & Rodriguez, P.A., have helped many Floridians get what they deserve after a severe storm or hurricane, and are here to listen and help. If you have any questions about the post-hurricane insurance claims process and what your rights are, call our Daytona law offices at 386-252-5170, or schedule a consultation with our Daytona Beach property damage attorneys online.