After a Disaster-Warning: Be aware of scams
Authored By: CFPB
While many people pull together during times of crisis, there is also an increased risk for scams and fraud. To avoid scams, you need to ask questions—lots of them. Questions will help you determine if something is too good to be true. If the person trying to sell you a product or service can’t or won’t answer your questions, this is a red flag that you might want to look for someone else to do business with.
Watch out for:
- People who want you to pay up-front fees to help you claim services, benefits, or get loans.
- Contractors selling repairs door-to-door, especially when they ask to receive payment up front or offer deep discounts.
- Con artists posing as government employees, insurance adjusters, law enforcement officials, or bank employees. It is easy to fake credibility and uniforms, so do not give out personal information to people you don’t know. Government employees never charge to help you get a benefit or service and will never ask for payment or financial information.
- Fake charities. Normally, legitimate organizations do not have similar names to government agencies or other charities; so if they do, it may be a scam. Never give out donations over the phone.
- Limited time offers. Anyone who offers you something and tells you that it is for a very limited time may be trying to pressure you into something that you could later regret. You should never be pressured to make a decision on the spot or to sign anything without having enough time to review it. Take your time, read and understand anything presented to you, and ask a trusted friend, relative, or attorney before acting.
Starting over requires a lot of hard choices. If you have been affected by disaster and want to make sure your financial records are secure, here is a checklist to help you consolidate all the information you need—including account numbers, personal records and financial records. Being prepared and knowing how to protect yourself can help you avoid scams and get back on your feet faster.