Hurricane season always brings a fear of the unknown. Flooding, rain, wind, tornadoes, and storm surges aren’t the only things that should worry you. Every year after a hurricane makes landfall, scammers are always close behind. It’s important to prepare for hurricane season and the scams it brings so that you aren’t caught off guard should a weather event happen in your area.
Prepare For Hurricane Season
One way to relieve some of the anxiety that hurricane season can bring is by making a plan. The more prepared you are, the less stressful an actual weather event will be.
- Sign up for emergency alerts and warnings in your area. Your local, public safety officials will use these alerts to inform you of incoming weather emergencies.
- Make an inventory of your household. Make a video recording of the inside and outside of your home, which will provide you with evidence of your belongings. Make a list of your possessions. Both of these items will help if you need to file an insurance claim.
- Choose an out-of-town contact. If you become a victim of a weather disaster, it can be helpful to have a contact that doesn’t live in the area. This person can act as a point of contact for your family should you get separated or if other members of your family are in need of information.
- Prepare your home. If you know a weather emergency is on the horizon, do what you need to do to protect your home. Board windows, unplug electronics, etc. If you live in an area prone to flooding, determine how to best safeguard your home from a possible flood.
- Have an evacuation plan (and one for your pets). If you must leave your home, make a plan for your family (and pets), so that you can exit quickly and with everything you need.
…And The Scams It Brings
When you become a victim of a weather emergency, it’s easy to let down your guard. As sad as it may be, scammers may look to take advantage of your situation.
- Beware of repair or clean-up scams. If your home sustains damage or you’re left with a lot of debris after a storm, you may start receiving a lot of unsolicited visitors. These visitors, acting as contractors, may promise to make quick repairs on your home or remove downed trees on your property.
- Always ask for documentation. Ask these contractors to provide proof of insurance, ID and references.
- Never, ever pay with cash, cryptocurrency or gift cards. Any contractor that would ask you to pay with these forms of payment is almost assuredly a scammer.
- Never pay in full until the job is complete. Paying a contractor a deposit is perfectly normal, but they should never ask for full payment before completing a job. If they do, look elsewhere.
- Get multiple quotes. When your home is in shambles, you may be tempted to get repairs stared quickly. However, the first person to knock on your door may not be the best or most affordable option.
- Watch out for imposters. After a weather event, a common scam is for people to visit victims and pretend to be government officials, inspectors or FEMA employees. Always ask for identification and never give out personal information until you’re sure the person is legitimate. Also be aware that FEMA will never ask you for money.
As much as you may dread the thought, you must prepare for hurricane season and the scams it brings. Hopefully, all you’ll be doing is preparing and never become a victim. But, if you do, you will be in a much better position.