When a national disaster strikes there is a lot to think about. You have to think about your health and safety as well as your family, property, home, car, and everything in it. The last thing you would expect to have to think about is someone scamming you. Actually when a disaster, or other kind of devastation, happens scammers and thieves
will come out of the wood work.
These con artists know you are desperate for help and will except it from anyone willing to offer it. But not everyone is actually trying to help you. Some are trying to get your information, money, or your property.
In one case a person was “kind” enough to help out the survivors of a tornado which recently hit Joplin, Missouri by letting them camp out on one of his vacant properties. He then brought out a drilling and plumbing team in order to supply water and built a place to shower and retrieve the water to cook and clean with. The campers were really excited
until they realized he was charging them to use his water, then charging them to use the shower itself. When people went to the authorities they were told that, unfortunately, since they were on his property if they used his water and his facilities they would have to pay. When they told the authorities that they were placed here and it wasn’t their choice to be here, they were told that this kind of thing happens and there wasn’t anything anyone could do about it.
In another instance some people offered to cash checks for individuals or run errands never to be seen or heard from again. In all the chaos it may seem like God himself has sent a savior to help you out but, unfortunately, frequently that ends up not being the case.
When a disaster strikes there are many basic rules that should take precedence such as never give anyone a check, cash, or credit cards to “run errands” for you. Ask the individual to take you personally then you will know if they are seriously there to help or to take advantage of you. Most scammers will try to avoid taking you anywhere with them unless they want to hurt you.
During a disaster it is hard to remember what to do so you need to prepare ahead of time. Have a fireproof safe for all of your important papers and maybe even a credit card or cash that is only to be used for this purpose. Make a list of everything of value in your home and give it to your insurance company. Make a list of all your medications and give a copy to a family member. Make a disaster preparedness kit just in case something happens. A bag or backpack with first aid equipment, water, and other emergency equipment will go a long way when trying to avoid becoming a victim when under extreme duress.
If you are prepared you are less likely to be scammed. The scammers will see someone who is not desperate and move on to someone who is obviously vulnerable. Remember that during an emergency, help is on the way it just may take some time to get there. Legitimate help will not ask for anything in return and won’t try to charge you for simple
services. If something is offered it’s important to determine if there will be strings attached. Never give anyone your cash, your credit card, or your checks. Instead seek out places that are organized by emergency response teams. These people are truly trying to help you and won’t be charging it for you after you receive services.