Report Scams, Watch out for “Storm Chasers”, and Donate Wisely after Natural Disasters

As Texas continues clean-up efforts from Hurricane Harvey, and Florida and the Caribbean begin the long work of recovering from Hurricane Irma, the Better Business Bureau is continuing to urge caution when it comes to donations, storm clean-up, and rebuilding.

Several reports to BBB Scam Tracker have cited price gauging of essentials, government grant scams mentioning the hurricanes, and phony credit card charges in Euros “because of the hurricane,” and BBB is looking into potential charity scams and unauthorized crowdfunding campaigns. But the biggest concerns may still lie ahead, as “storm chasers” arrive in hard-hit areas.

“It’s unfortunate that, after every natural disaster, unscrupulous people prey on the victims of the storm in their hour of need,” said Mary E. Power, CEO of the Council of Better Business Bureaus, the umbrella organization for the local BBBs across North America. “Now that clean-up has begun, BBB is reminding homeowners and business owners to be cautious of ‘storm chasers’ and out-of-town contractors who may lack proper licensing, ask for full payment in advance and then do minimal work, over-promise on quick fixes, or just take the money and run.”

“I am happy to report that all of our BBB staffers in Texas, Florida, and across the south are safe,” Power added, “and most are back at work helping consumers and business begin the long road to recovery.”

  • BBB has tips on storm chasersand how to avoid being taken advantage of during clean-up:  org/storm
  • BBB Heart of Texas is maintaining a Texas Disaster Relief Supportwebsite, with links to a variety of local and statewide resources: bbb.org/centex-relief
  • The BBBs in Florida are maintaining the Florida Hurricane Guide(org/florida-hurricane-guide).
  • BBB Wise Giving Alliance has posted lists of Accredited Charitiesaccepting donations in Texas (bbb.org/hurricaneharvey) and in Florida (go.bbb.org/hurricaneirma).
  • Consumers who have problems with businesses are urged to file a complaintwith BBB: org/complain
  • Consumers who are targeted by scammers are urged to file a report with BBB Scam Tracker, even if they didn’t actually lose money: org/scamtracker

 

Rebecca is the Community Outreach Coordinator for BBB serving the San Francisco Bay Area and Northern Coastal California. She works to advance BBB’s vision of an ethical marketplace where buyers and sellers can trust each other. She does this by developing content such as blog posts, press releases, newspaper columns, and PSAs to educate businesses and consumers. Rebecca also represents BBB at community events.

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Posted in Business Tips, Consumer Tips, Consumer/Business Services, Scams

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