As we’ve seen time and time again, disasters have a tendency to bring out the best in us. From neighbors helping neighbors, to foreign countries sending aid, catastrophe has a way of bringing people together.
Unfortunately, the turmoil that rises up in the wake of a major disaster is also a prime breeding ground for scams and scam artists. These crooks take advantage of the anguish and confusion surrounding a major misfortune and use it to twist our fears and sympathy to their advantage. Jesse Campbell writes on Money Management International seven key ways you can protect yourself and avoid scams after a disaster.
1. Remember that anyone can call you or send you mail
A large portion of the most successful scams start simply with a phone call or a piece of mail. The people calling sound authoritative and the mail looks authentic, so you go along with what you’re being told. That’s why it bears remembering that anyone can call you and anyone can cobble together an official-looking piece of mail. Avoid assuming that just because someone seems credible, that they are.
2. Independently verify everything
If someone calls and tells you that you need to make a payment immediately in order to maintain your flood coverage (a popular scam that cropped up again in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey’s record rainfall), hang up the phone and check with your insurer directly. Don’t use any phone number provided via robocall or unsolicited mail. Use the phone number provided on your monthly bill or find one directly on your insurer’s website.
Scammers will always try to keep you inside their loop by providing you with phone numbers, mailing addresses, email addresses, and website links that they control. If you’re ever suspicious, be sure to independently verify what you’re being told. [Read more…]