AG warns of potential scams after natural disasters

By TOM LATEK

Kentucky Today

FRANKFORT, Ky (KT) – Attorney General Daniel Cameron has issued a consumer alert warning Kentuckians of possible scams related to the recent ice storm and flooding.

Following natural disasters and other emergencies, scammers may attempt to take advantage of victims, he said.

“Scammers attempt to capitalize on consumers in crisis, and we want to make sure Kentuckians who have suffered losses due to the recent flooding and heavy rainfall are not harmed further by natural disaster scams,” Cameron stated. “We encourage anyone who encounters a potential scam to report it immediately to our office by visiting ag.ky.gov/scams or calling 1-888-432-9257.”

Scammers may impersonate relief organizations and request banking or other personally identifiable information. His office offers these tips to avoid becoming the victim of a natural disaster scam:

– -Do not provide your banking, insurance or personal information, such as your Social Security number, to a non-profit or contractor.

– Remember that legitimate relief organizations will never ask for your banking information.

– Kentucky homeowners affected by recent flooding should also beware of out-of-town contractors going door-to-door to solicit business. While not all door-to-door contractors are scammers, some may lack the proper licensing for your area, offer quick fixes or make promises they can’t deliver.

– Contact your insurance company. If you are insured, discuss your policy coverage and filing requirements with your insurance company. Ask your adjuster for an estimate for repair costs. Be sure to save receipts for food, temporary lodging and other expenses covered by your policy. Ask your insurance company to recommend reputable contractors to assist with repairs.

– Research contractors or repair companies and get more than one estimate. Search for contractors on BBB.org, get a reference from friends or family and check with your local government agency responsible for registering or licensing contractors. Be sure to gather more than one estimate.

– Resist high-pressure sales tactics. Scammers often offer “special pricing” if you hire them on the spot. Do not feel forced to make a hasty decision to hire an unknown contractor. Be proactive in researching and selecting a contractor instead of reacting to sales calls or door-to-door pitches.

– Do not pay a contractor or business up front for their services.

– Do not sign insurance checks over to a contractor. Be sure to get an invoice from your contractor and pay them directly, preferably with a credit card, so that charges may be disputed, if necessary. Review contracts carefully, and do not sign documents that give a contractor rights to your insurance claims.

While the Attorney General’s Office has not received complaints of natural disaster scams, they say it is important that Kentuckians remain vigilant and report scams immediately.