If your company is facing the fall-out from Hurricane Ida, flooding in Tennessee, western wildfires, or any other natural disaster, your employees are looking for help in the recovery process – and you’re looking to make a safe return to business. But as flood waters recede, dangerous predators can spring to the surface: scammers targeting people and small businesses trying to get back on their feet. Here are ways to avoid common post-disaster scams.
- Be skeptical of anyone promising immediate clean-up and debris removal. Whether you’re repairing a home or rebuilding a damaged business premises, the recovery process takes time. When dealing with disaster recovery, avoid companies that quote out-of-line prices or demand payment up-front.
- Check them out. Before you pay, ask for IDs, licenses, and proof of insurance. Don’t believe any promises that aren’t in writing. And trust your gut if you have concerns about their credentials or experience.
- Don’t pay by wire transfer, gift card, cryptocurrency, or cash. Fly-by-nighters often insist on forms of payment that are tough to trace. To reduce the risk that they’ll take the money and run, never make the final payment until the work is done and you’re satisfied.
- Guard your personal information. Some con artists go door to door in impacted area. Others try to weasel their way in through telemarketing calls or phishing emails. Only scammers will say they’re a government official and then demand money or your credit card, bank account, or Social Security number.
- FEMA and the SBA don’t charge application fees. If someone wants money to help you qualify for FEMA funds or an SBA disaster relief loan, it’s probably a scam.
- Be wise to rental listing scams. Remind your employees to keep their guard up if they’re searching for temporary housing. Steer clear of people who tell you to wire money or ask for security deposits or rent before you’ve met or signed a lease.
- Spot disaster-related charity scams. Scammers will often try to make a quick profit from the misfortune of others – and community-minded small businesses are a prime target. Check out the FTC’s advice on donating wisely and avoiding charity scams.
Share this infographic, Picking Up the Pieces after a Disaster, and accompanying social media image with employees, customers, business colleagues, and others in your community. Learn more on the FTC’s Dealing with Weather Emergencies page. Spot something suspicious? Make your next stop ReportFraud.ftc.gov.