Following natural disasters, scammers may attempt to take advantage of Kentuckians. Here are some of the most common natural disaster scams as well as tips to avoid becoming a victim of natural disaster fraud.
Scammers may impersonate relief or charitable organizations and request donations for personal financial gain instead of disaster relief. Give responsibly to known, reputable sources or recognized disaster relief organizations.
Construction & Repair Scams
In these scams, out-of-town contractors go door-to-door soliciting business. They may lack the proper licensing for your area, offer quick fixes, or make promises they can’t deliver.
Research contractors or repair companies and get more than one estimate. Search for contractors on BBB.org or the Home Builders Association of Western KY.
Get a reference from friends or family, and check with the contractor registration office in Mayfield if you have questions about the registration status of a contractor.
Reputable Contractors will have the proper insurance (Workers Compensation, if they have employees, and General Liability). They will provide proof of coverage when asked. By possessing the proper insurance coverage, the contractor protects you, the customer.
Resist high-pressure sales tactics. Scammers often offer “special pricing” if you hire them on the spot. Do not feel forced to make a hasty decision to hire an unknown contractor.
Be proactive in researching and selecting a contractor instead of reacting to sales calls or door-to-door pitches. Reputable contractors will not go door-to-door to solicit business.
Do not pay a contractor or business upfront for their services.
Do not sign insurance checks over to a contractor. Be sure to get an invoice from your contractor and pay them directly, preferably with a credit card, so that charges may be disputed, if necessary.
Reputable contractors will provide the customer with a written contract detailing the scope of work, the general time frame of when the work will be done, and the cost of the project. Do not sign documents that give a contractor rights to your insurance claims.
Advanced Fee Loan Scams
Fraudulent lending companies or phony brokers may offer “guaranteed” loans for a fee if you pay in advance.
Work with local lending institutions, when possible, and make sure the mortgage loan officer is licensed by the Kentucky Department of Financial Institutions. If a loan doesn’t include a mortgage, the loan officer generally can’t charge a fee in advance.
Scammers may impersonate relief or charitable organizations to obtain personal or banking information. Remember that legitimate relief organizations will never ask for your banking information.
Following natural disasters, scammers may obtain personal or banking information from documents scattered during severe storms.
Be sure to closely monitor and place a fraud alert on your credit. Free weekly credit reports are offered by the three major reporting agencies until April 20, 2022. Get your free report at AnnualCreditReport.com.
Following an emergency, bad actors may charge unreasonably high prices for goods or services that are in short supply.
According to Kentucky’s price gouging laws, selling or renting an item for a price “which is grossly in excess of the price prior” to a state of emergency is illegal. This includes goods and services like food, emergency cleanup supplies, medical supplies, gasoline, and housing. Report price gouging by calling 502-696-5485.