State Officials Warn Residents to be Aware of Hurricane Season and Natural Disaster Related Scams Over This Summer
(Hartford, CT) – The Connecticut Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection, The Department of Consumer Protection (DCP) and Better Business Bureau Serving Connecticut are advising consumers and families to remain aware of disaster related scams as we enter the height of Connecticut’s traditional Hurricane Season (August-November).
Warmer weather brings increased potential for flooding, tornadoes, severe thunderstorms and tropical storm or hurricane activity that can cause damage to personal property, homes and business. Storm damage often requires consumers and business owners to make expensive repairs quickly – making them vulnerable to scam artists.
Before hurricane season starts – we’re urging all Connecticut residents to be aware of these types of scams:
- Clean up and Repair Scams: Scammers often offer cleanup or repair services at a low price you’re willing to pay upfront, and get the work done without a contract. By law, home improvement projects must have a contract. It’s important to take a little time, and research potential contractors before making a decision. You should ask for credential information, identification, proof of insurance, and make sure there is a written signed contract detailing the work that will be done. You can verify credentials by visiting http://www.elicense.ct.gov.
- Charity Scams: In the aftermath of large natural disasters you may want to donate money to support the recovery process. Scammers take advantage of our good nature – and will create fake charities and advertise them to potential donors . Always research a charity before giving by visiting sites like www.CharityNavigator.org, www.GuideStar.org, or www.give.org, and ask questions about how your donation will be used. Any charity soliciting in the State of Connecticut must be registered with DCP.
- Job Scams: Natural disasters sometimes cause unemployment, and job scams can become more common. These scammers can be very convincing and often advertise on legitimate platforms. Remember that you should never have to pay to apply for a job, or to start a job – and if a job posting guarantees employment, you should be suspicious.
- Used Car Scams: During hurricanes and severe storms, vehicles can be destroyed or have severe water damage. Scammers may try to cover up this damage and sell these cars out of state. Be wary of buying used cars after natural disasters, and always do a thorough inspection and ask for the cars history.
“With one named tropical storm having already impacted Connecticut this season, now is the time to prepare and learn about different types of scams associated with storms and disasters”, said Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection Commissioner James Rovella. “Remain vigilant and contact the appropriate officials if you suspect fraud or something raises a red flag.”
“Scam artists take advantage of us when we’re most vulnerable, and need support most,” said Consumer Protection Commissioner Michelle H. Seagull, “That’s why during challenging times, it’s more important than ever to do your research, and follow your instincts. Remember that if a deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is, and spending a little bit of extra time doing research can save you time and money in the long run.”
"Unfortunately, natural disasters are a popular trigger for many different scams,” said BBB Connecticut CEO Paulette Scarpetti, “Scammers always seize an opportunity to take advantage of people when they are desperate and in need of help. If you’ve been the victim of a natural disaster and want to avoid scams, take a moment to do your homework before you pay or hire anyone. If you want to help victims of a natural disaster, always give wisely and visit give.org to find a trustworthy charity.”
If you believe you have fallen victim to a scam, or if you notice a scam, you should report it to DCP by visiting www.ct.gov/DCP/complaint
or to the Better Business Bureau’s Scamtracker at www.bbb.org/scamtracker
Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection
Department of Consumer Protection
Lora Rae Anderson
Better Business Bureau Serving Connecticut