In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, the Federal Trade Commission is warning storm victims to be on the lookout against potential scams that could ruin their lives even more, according to Time.
“It’s no secret that fraudsters follow the money, attracted by the demand for repairs and the availability of funds,” the FTC warns on its site.
The disorder and confusion that take place after a natural disaster offer the perfect opportunity for scammers to exploit victims.
Fake loans and poor repair jobs on cars and appliances are just some of the offers scammers give to lure their next victims.
The scams that will most likely be used in relation to Sandy are home-improvement scams, where contractors take pay without finishing the job, and charitable donation scams, where most or all the proceeds go to administrative fees.
To best deter these schemes, the FTC recommends that storm victims read all paperwork before signing and looking up reviews of charitable organizations through the Better Business Bureau.
Used-car buyers nationwide may also want to be on the lookout for flood damage in potential buys. Be suspicious of silt residue or a muddy smell, which are good indicators of flooded cars. The FTC advises that car buyers run a title search to check previous owners’ addresses.