Home Repairs Consumer Fraud
Property damage in the wake of hurricane Sandy is estimated to be $20 billion. So there will be a lot repair and clean up. Unfortunately, reports of scams are also coming in by the hundreds. Below are some basic tips on how to avoid being scammed, as posted on theweatherchannel.com:
If someone shows up on your doorstep offering unsolicited home repairs, be especially wary about hiring them.
If a contractor claims to be supported by the government, don’t hire them, as The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) does not endorse individual contractors.
Always confirm 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 and completion dates.
Don’t allow yourself to be rushed into making a decision on hiring a contractor or starting work, no matter how urgent the repairs may be.
Don’t pay cash up front to any contractor.
Storm-damaged Vehicle Scams
Authorities estimate that thousands of vehicles may have received damage from flooding in several states.
If you have to buy a new car or truck because of flood or storm damage, and are considering buying a used vehicle, run a check on the vehicle identification number (VIN) to see if it has been reported to have been damaged. If it has, don't buy it.
The VINcheck system was launched seven years ago, in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, by the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB). The NICB worked with law enforcement officials in Louisiana and Mississippi to inspect hundreds of thousands of vehicles damaged by flood waters. NICB then established a consumer protection service known today as VINCheck(SM).
READ MORE Consumer Fraud LEGAL NEWS
VINCheck allows individuals to check to see if a vehicle has ever been declared as salvage by one of our participating member insurance companies. It also alerts users if a vehicle is an unrecovered stolen vehicle. VINCheck remains a free service available to the public at nicb.org.
Potential for post-Hurricane Sandy fraud also exists with unscrupulous towing companies who may take advantage of consumers and insurance companies.
The NICB is also alerting disaster victims to be aware of the potential for fraud that exists as efforts to repair and rebuild get underway.