Home Restoration Red Flags: Don’t Fall for a Disaster Recovery Scam

disaster recovery scamAfter the first responders leave and the cleanup begins, the scammers arrive in force.  These con artists prey on those who have already suffered devastating losses, making conditions even worse for those who fall for their tricks. Here’s how to spot and avoid the most common home restoration scams after a disaster:

Fly by Night Outfits Abound

Con artists and scammers head to disaster zones as soon as it is safe to do so and attempt to pose as legitimate recovery businesses. Be wary of anyone who knocks on your door or who is going door to door and offering to do repair work or to give you an estimate. Once you let them in, they’ll give you an “estimate” and collect a deposit – and you’ll never see them again.

Fake FEMA Workers

Anyone from FEMA will have specific photo identification and never charge for an inspection; they also do not charge for disaster assistance forms. A common scam involves the con artist posing as a Federal FEMA worker and either stealing your identity when you complete a disaster assistance application, stealing the items you’ve worked hard to save from the flood or fire or charging you a fee to inspect your home and advise you of your options.

Local Businesses Suddenly offer New Services

While this may not be a scam, per se, a local business that never offered floor, fire or mold services but suddenly claims to be an expert in the aftermath of a disaster is something to avoid. Cleaning up after a disastrous event requires expertise, and for those who are in related businesses, it is tempting to hang out a shingle and immediately attempt to cash in on the freely flowing insurance funds. Make sure any business you hire to clean and restore your home is actually officially in the business of doing so, and that they have experience with your particular issue. The best way to protect yourself from scammers after an emergency is to be aware that they will be flooding your neighborhood, and to only work with established local cleaning and restoration businesses you trust. How to make a business disaster plan. Free eBook.
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