Hurricane Sandy Scams: Brigantine Police Officials Warn Of Crooked Contractors, Charities

 Disasters often attract con artists and frauds.

Beware, Brigantine Residents: Some of the people offering to help you clean up the superstorm’s debris may actually be scam artists looking to clean you out instead, officials warn.

Fly-by-night unregistered home improvement contractors may take your money and disappear, leaving unfinished work and unsafe homes. Fraudulent charities capitalize on compassion, and divert money from worthy causes.

Protect yourself with the following tips. Call the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs at 800-242-5846 to file a complaint or to ask questions about contractors, charities or price gouging.

Local residents to be wary of people offering to do repair work and said senior citizens should be especially vigilant for scam artists, the Patriot News reports.

When dealing with contractors offering to help clean up from the storm, instant estimates, door-to-door salesmen and cash only or pay-up-front offers should be considered red flags.

Scammers will attempt to profit off of people looking to make charitable donations.

The Securities and Exchange Commission also has issued an alert for investors to be wary of potential investment scams, particularly those receiving lump sum insurance payouts.

Tthe public to watch out for unsolicited emails on disaster relief and to be cautious of individuals who represent themselves as victims or officials asking for donations by email or social-networking sites.

Watch for warning signs that an appeal might be a scam. These include an organization with a name similar to that of a widely known charity, a caller who’s unable to answer questions, or one who offers a prize in exchange for a donation. More details at the Federal Trade Commission site . http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/microsites/charityfraud

_ Never send cash. You can’t be sure it will get to the organization.

_ Avoid clicking on links or opening attachments contained within aid-related spam, even if they claim to contain pictures of damage caused by the storm. The attachments could be viruses.

Do not to share your personal or financial information with persons soliciting contributions and to avoid cash donations.

The Internal Revenue Service and Better Business Bureau issued warnings about fake charities and recommend people do their homework before making donations. To research an organization, you can look up a charitable organization at the Better Business Bureau or through the database of tax-exempt organizations listed on the IRS’ website

HOME REPAIRS FRAUD

_ Be especially wary about hiring someone who shows up at your door offering unsolicited home repairs.

_ Don’t hire a contractor who says he’s supported by the government. The Federal Emergency Management Agency does not endorse individual contractors.

_ Check a contractor’s credentials with the Better Business Bureau or state attorney general’s office.

_ Deal with reputable contractors in your community.

_ Have a written, detailed contract that clearly states everything the contractor will do, with estimated start completion date.

FLOOD-DAMAGED CARS SCAMS

_ Run a check on the vehicle identification number (VIN) of any used car or truck you consider buying in the months ahead to see if it has been reported to have been damaged. If it has, don’t buy it.

Three free services for consumers to check it are offered by the National Insurance Crime Bureau ( ), Carfax ( ) and AutoCheck ( ).

Watch out for scammy charitable organizations that have similar names to more reputable resources. These sites often end in .com (instead of the typical .org for non-profits) and are setup to fool you into thinking you’re donating to a good cause. In reality, you’re donating your money and personal and financial information to thieves.

Double check the legitimacy of the site you’re clicking to from your email, Facebook, or elsewhere.  When in doubt, check your local American Red Cross or the National FEMA site to find local help.

If you’ve experienced damage to any of your personal property, always call your insurance company first.  Don’t fall for fly-by-night ‘professionals’ that make false guarantees about a claims check, damage appraisal, inspection, or water quality testing.

Protect important information and documents. Whether you’re in a shelter, staying with friends or crashing on your family’s couch, never let these items leave your sight. They are the key to your identity—and you will need this information to prove who you are.

Call your bank, credit union, insurer or financial planner to see if they offer identity theft management services. Some financial institutions offer this service for free, as a perk for being a member or account holder.

Be proactive and check your credit report by calling 1-877-322-8228 or visiting this website. Consider adding an initial security alert to your credit report, by visiting this Experian website or by calling 1-888-EXPERIAN (397-3742).

Ask the post office to hold your mail until you return home. If you must evacuate, this will keep thieves from finding sensitive materials that are left in your mailbox.

Copyright © 2015·Brigantine Police Department. Webdesign by Chief of Police Tim Reed
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