Scammers are known to follow in the wake of natural disasters. They may claim to be able to fix damage done by the storm, or seek contributions to fake charities to help storm victims.
After a disaster, guard against home repair scams:
Don’t pay for work up front. Inspect the work and make sure you’re satisfied before you pay. A small down payment may be required for some projects, but don’t pay anything without getting a written contract. Avoid paying with cash.
Beware of any contractor who tries to rush you or comes to your home to solicit work. If an offer is only good now or never, find someone else to do the work. Seek recommendations from friends, neighbors, co-workers and others who have had work done on their homes.
Get three written estimates, if possible, and compare bids. Check credentials and contact our office and the Better Business Bureau to learn about any complaints against the contractor. Get a written contract detailing all work to be performed, costs and a projected completion date, and get their certificate of insurance directly from their insurance company.
To help storm victims, make sure your donations will do the most good by avoiding charity scams:
Don’t respond to unsolicited emails and text messages asking you to give, and be wary of social networking pleas for donations. Fraudulent messages may look legitimate and use the name of real charities.
Watch out for pushy telemarketers, and say no to high-pressure appeals. If a caller refuses to answer your questions about the charity, offers to pick up a donation in person, or calls you and asks for a credit card, bank account or Social Security number, donate elsewhere.
Before you make a donation, do your homework first. To report a charity scam, call the Attorney General’s Office. To check up on a charity, call the Secretary of State’s office toll‑free at (888) 830‑4989.
For more tips and information, visit ncdoj.gov. If you spot a storm scam, call Attorney General Roy Cooper’s Consumer Protection Division at 1-877-5-NO-SCAM toll-free within North Carolina or file a complaint online.