October 31st, 2012
Hurricane Sandy Aftermath: How to Spot Charity and Home Repair Scams
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This week’s devastating storm is said to have killed 19 and could cost more in damages than 1992’s Hurricane Andrew. Those on the sidelines will be looking for ways to help contribute to relief efforts while those affected will be putting their lives and homes back together after the extensive damage.
Sadly, others will be looking to take advantage of consumers during this vulnerable time, the FTC cautions in a press release. Here’s how to make sure you’re not made a victim of a charity or home repair scam.
How to Spot a Charity Scam
Just as with the Haiti earthquake, scammers will be seeking ways to take advantage of charitable consumers’ good deeds. Here are a few guidelines on how to make sure you aren’t caught amid one of these scams:
- Stick to charities you know and trust. If you’re unsure whether or not a charity is legit, check it out on a site like Charity Navigator or the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance.
- If you receive a phone call for a donation, ask who the caller works for and what percentage of the donation goes to the charity or fundraiser. Don’t be quick to donate without all the answers.
- Don’t give out your personal or financial information unless you know the charity is reputable. This especially goes for your credit card or bank account numbers.
- Avoid cash donations – you can’t be sure that your donation will be received and you won’t have a record for tax purposes.
Make sure to keep track of any charitable donations you make and monitor your credit to make sure you’re protected.
How to Spot a Home Repair Scam
After a devastating natural disaster, there are also scammers trying to take advantage of homeowners who need to repair damages. Here’s how to make sure you can spot a scam when hiring a contractor:
- Check the contractor’s identification and references. Make sure to do some snooping on your own by searching online.
- Avoid paying more than the minimum in advance.
- Deal with reputable contractors in your community. Ask your friends and neighbors for recommendations.
- Call your local law enforcement and the Better Business Bureau if you suspect a con.