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3 Ways to Protect Yourself From Scammers in Hurricane Florence Aftermath

Dianna Wood, embraces her husband Lynn, as they look out over their flooded property as the Little River continues to rise in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence in Linden, N.C., Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2018. "I'm still hopeful," said Lynn about his home which currently has water up to the front step. "In another foot, I'll be heartbroken," he added. David Goldman/AP Photo


Although Hurricane Florence is long gone, the effects of the storm are still evident throughout the states impacted by its wrath.

Officials are warning well-meaning citizens of scams targeting everyone from homeowners looking to rebuild to people wishing to donate toward the effort.

How to Avoid Hurricane Florence Scams

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) offered a blog post this month that highlighted some nefarious practices that residents are at risk of encountering in the days — or even the weeks and months — after a storm or other natural disaster. Here’s how to protect yourself.

Protect Your Personal Information

Ask for identification before you share your Social Security or account numbers.

“Scammers sometimes pose as government officials and ask you for your financial information or money to apply for aid that you can request on your own for free,” wrote FTC consumer education specialist Colleen Tressler.

She emphasized that government officials will never ask for money in exchange for information.

Verify Your Contractor’s Credentials

The FTC also warned against debris removal and cleanup scams. Be skeptical of people who promise immediate cleanup or debris removal, and check licensing information before paying a contractor or signing a contract. As with any normal work you’d have done on your property, get a written estimate and signed contract.

Make Sure That Charity Checks Out

What about those wishing to lend a financial hand after a disaster like Hurricane Florence? The FTC says to research groups soliciting donations, and cross-check your research with a database that tracks charitable organizations. Don’t contribute by cash or gift card, but rather, use a check or credit card so your payment can be tracked.

The North Carolina Attorney General’s office told local news station ABC11 this week that it received several complaints about charity scams.

If you suspect a scammer is targeting you, report the incident to your state attorney general’s office or the FTC.

Lisa Rowan is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder.

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