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After disaster strikes beware of charity and home repair scams

Consumer Reports News: March 07, 2012 11:08 AM

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Scammers often pop up in the wake of weather-related disasters. Following the recent tornadoes that caused massive damage across several states, the Federal Trade Commission is warning you to watch out for urgent appeals for charity and fraudulent home repair offers.

Before you donate:

  • Check a charity before you donate. See the Better Business Bureau's Wise Giving Alliance.
  • Be alert for charities that seem to have sprung up overnight.
  • Ask if the caller is a paid fundraiser, who they works for, and what percent of your donation goes to the charity vs. the fundraiser.
  • Don't give out personal or financial information unless you know the charity is reputable.
  • Never send cash.

Fraudsters will be looking to cash in on property owners' insurance settlements and any financial relief from the federal government, the FTC says. Before you have work done:

  • Check a contractor's identification and references.
  • Ask for copies of a contractor's general liability and worker's compensation insurance.
  • Avoid paying more than the minimum in advance.
  • If you suspect a con, call your local law enforcement and the Better Business Bureau.

Regardless of where you live, check out our advice on how you can save on homeowners insurance, plus tips on smart ways to file your claim.

For more see our recent article Insurance Claims: How to get your due from car, home, and life insurance policies, plus our previous Protecting your assets: Make sure you're prepared if disaster strikes.

It's also National Consumer Protection Week, and the FTC has taken the lead on this year's event, which focuses on the importance of knowing your rights in the marketplace.

FTC Warns Consumers: Charity and Home Repair Scams May Appear After a Disaster [FTC]

Maggie Shader

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