Natural disasters like floods and ice storms bring out both the best and worst in people. Below are some examples of things to be aware of following a natural disaster.
Transient contractors and fly-by-night remodelers are drawn to disaster areas and provide shoddy service. The easiest way to avoid being scammed by disreputable contractors is to deal with local or area businesses. If you do not have first hand knowledge or a reference you trust, contact the Consumer Protection Division and the Better Business Bureau to obtain information on the business.
Unscrupulous individuals may charge unreasonably high prices for products in short supply like building material or generators. Get more than one estimate. If you think someone is deliberately gouging you on the price of an item or service, let the business know that neither you, your neighbors, nor your family will patronize the business in the future. Report it to the Consumer Protection Division.
Scam artists know citizens want to help others. They may set up phony charities to collect money or fraudulently misrepresent themselves as working for a legitimate charity. Check with the local Better Business Bureau to see if they have any record of the charity. Send contributions directly to established charities or verify with the charity the identity of anybody collecting money.
Con artists may pose as building inspectors and order immediate repairs which they can do on the side. They may also pose as government officials and demand a fee for processing emergency loan documents. Ask to see identification for anyone representing themselves as a government official. Phone the government agency to verify the identity if there is any payment of money involved.
Advance fee loan scams
Phony lending companies and phony loan brokers may offer "guaranteed" loans for a fee you pay in advance. "Guaranteed" loans almost never materialize. Deal with local lending institutions if possible. Someone assisting you in obtaining a mortgage loan must be licensed by the Kentucky Department of Financial Institutions. If the loan does not include a mortgage, the person assisting you generally cannot charge any fee in advance.
Agencies that can help:
There are several governmental and non-governmental agencies you can contact for additional information or assistance:
Inside the Louisville Metropolitan Area (Jefferson and Bullitt Counties), call the Office of Consumer Protection at
429-7134 to report scams or for information on businesses.
Outside the Louisville Metropolitan Area, call the Frankfort office of the Office of Consumer Protection at
(502) 696-5389 to report scams or for information on businesses.
The Better Business Bureau may be able to provide information about the history of a company or whether a particular charity meets certain voluntary guidelines:
Louisville: (800) 388-2222 or (502) 583-6546
Lexington: (800) 866-6668 or (606) 259-1008