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After the Disaster – Beware of Fraud

  After a Disaster With the permission of iii.org

Natural disasters (such as a flood, earthquake, hurricane or tornado) sometimes invite a different type of disaster: "Storm hunters" who try to take advantage of the unfortunate circumstances of others . These profiteers have many forms – from workers who qualify as qualified contractors to "volunteers" who only try to help themselves to lawyers and public organizers who offer to take over your claim. If you are starting to think about someone who has offered help after a disaster, here are some tips to get you back on track:

  • Never feel pressured to make a decision.
    While the need to recover quickly is understandable, do not disappoint for a high-pressure sale. If you have signed an agreement or agreements, remember that the Federal Trade Commission has consumer protection rules that allow you to terminate a contract until midnight on the third business day after you enter into it. This applies to door-to-door sales contracts for more than $ 25, as well as sales contracts for more than $ 25 made at a location other than the seller's usual place of business. In addition, states have similar rules to help consumers think through the contracts they have signed.
  • Be sure to sign your claim to an outsider.
    This may sound like a good idea, as it seems to be free. from dealing with the details of disaster recovery. However, what often happens when a third party (who may be a contractor or public adjuster) takes over your claim is that you lose control of it and the repair costs can be greatly inflated, delayed or not in accordance with the building codes. The desire to have the job done for the first time is a good case for the homeowner to stay in the process.
  • Always handle a licensed, insured contractor for both temporary and permanent repairs.
    Make sure having a professional handle your job. Unlicensed persons can actually cause more damage to your property. And if they are damaged on your property, they can hold you liable if they do not have their own insurance. You can request to see their license and verify it with government or county officials. Unlicensed contractors can be reported to your licensing board. Keep receipts for temporary repairs, as your insurer will reimburse you for these expenses.
  • Know that your insurer is an advisor who can help you through every step of the claims process.
    Home and business insurance comes with damage services, so contact your insurance company as soon as possible after the disaster has occurred. Disaster claims are handled based on the severity of the damage, so those most affected are given priority. This is why it is important to give a correct preliminary account of the damage when you make the first call to your insurance company. Also, be sure to list all the circumstances that may require prompt handling of damages, such as situations with special needs. Contact the insurance department in your country if you have a complaint.
  • Report the scam to your local police and state insurance department.
    These scams can happen to anyone, so do not hesitate to contact the authorities. Many states also have consumer issues departments that help you answer questions, protect your interests, and file fees if necessary.

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