Scams seem to follow disasters. Don't let your guard down and suffer another disaster such as identity theft or paying fees for services that are never provided.
The following are some common post-disaster fraud practices to avoid.
Fraudulent building contractors.
When hiring a contractor, the
* Check out the contractor before you sign a contract or pay any money. Ask if the contractor is registered with the
* Be sure to check local references and hire local contractors when possible. (If you do not know the contractor, consider taking photographs of license plates, vehicles, driver's licenses, etc.) Also, check Iowa Courts Online for past court cases, and see if there are complaints on file with the
* Get it in writing. Seek several written estimates for the job you want done. Before any work begins, agree on a written contract detailing work to be done, type and quality of materials to be used, responsibility for permits, costs, and any other promises.
* Request a copy of the contractor's liability insurance certificate. Put start and completion dates in writing and consequences if the contractor fails to follow them (For example: The contract could be nullified if the contractor does not start on time or finish on time.)
* Avoid paying large sums in advance to a contractor. If you have to make a partial advance payment for materials, make your check out to the supplier and the contractor.
* Insist on a "mechanic's lien waiver" in case the contractor fails to pay others for materials or labor.
* Do not make a rushed decision or agree to a contract that you do not want just because the contractor tells you that he is busy.
In most cases,
Fake offers of state or federal aid:
* Beware of visits, calls or emails from people claiming to be from
Don't fall for scam artists who promise a disaster grant and ask for large cash deposits or advance payments in full.
* Federal and state workers do not solicit or accept money.
* The job of
Recovery officials encourage
* Email firstname.lastname@example.org
* Call 515-281-5926
* Toll-free number outside of the
For more information visit Attorney General consumer tips and information
If you are in one of seven
* Go online to www.disasterassistance.gov
* Download the
* Call toll-free 1-800-621-3362. Lines are open from
* Visit a Disaster Recovery Center (DRC). To find the nearest DRC, go online to www.fema.gov/DRC.
Disaster recovery assistance is available without regard to race, color, religion, nationality, sex, age, disability, English proficiency or economic status. If you or someone you know has faced discrimination, call