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With Hurricane Irene approaching the East Coast, the Federal Trade Commission reminds consumers that when it comes to preparing for a weather emergency, financial readiness is as important as having a flashlight with fully charged batteries. Also, the FTC warns that it’s important to be mindful of possible scams in the aftermath of a disaster.

Consumers can go here to find tips on what they can do to be financially prepared for a disaster, such as having a written, documented inventory of their possessions, and finding out if their home or other insurance policy will pay for temporary shelter, or replacement clothing or furniture, if they are affected by the hurricane. The FTC also cautions that scammers may try to take advantage of a disaster, and so consumers should be wary of urgent appeals for charitable donations, and watch out for fraudulent home repair schemes after a storm. In addition, the agency has more information about for consumers about avoiding home repair rip-offs and charity fraud.

The Federal Trade Commission works for consumers to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices and to provide information to help spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint in English or Spanish, visit the FTC’s online Complaint Assistant or call 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357). The FTC enters complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to more than 2,000 civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad. The FTC’s website provides free information on a variety of consumer topics. Like the FTC on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

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