Consumer Alert: Beware of disaster-related scams before, after, and during storms

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HONOLULU (KHON2) – While Hurricane Douglas passed the islands peacefully, it’s a reminder that disasters can strike at any time.

The Better Business Bureau says scammers prey on victims before, during and after storms.

Knowing how to recognize and avoid common disaster-related scams can help protect finances and personal information.

A common scheme that surfaces during natural disasters is insurance scams.

“You may receive a call saying ‘hey we got this storm coming, we can sell you insurance,'” said Roseann Freitas, the BBB Hawaii Marketplace Manager. “Well, the reality is no legitimate insurance company is going to sell you insurance when they know a storm is coming your way. So when it comes to anything related to insurance, whether it’s buying it or claiming something, you really need to go directly to your own insurance agent.”

The BBB says after storms, they often see complaints about clean-up and repair scams.

“A lot of time scammers will come out and say ‘hey I can fix your roof, I can do all of this and I’ll charge you only half.’ Sometimes they’ll say ‘yeah I don’t have a license but I’m only charging you half.’ These are all red flags. A lot of times they’ll take the money and run.”

If you receive a suspicious call from a government official, like FEMA, you could be the target of an imposter scam.

“If they ask you, will you just pay us a small fee we can help you. None of those government agencies will ask for a fee. They’re also not going to ask you for personal information like that. So if you didn’t contact them yourself, it’s highly unlikely they’ll contact you.”

The BBB says these scams have different approaches but they’re all trying to compromise your information.

“Ask yourself, is this person legitimate, did I reach out to this person? Make sure you always do your background check and you can reach out to like DCCA or BBB and make sure anyone you interact with is a registered company here in the state of Hawaii.”

For more information about disaster-related scams, click here.

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