Staying Alert to Disaster- and Pandemic-Related Scams
Living through a pandemic or dealing with the aftermath of a disaster is never easy. Add to your list of struggles, the potential for scammers and imposters who hope to turn a quick profit from your misfortunes. To protect your finances and personal information, learn about the common scams fraudsters may attempt to pull during times of crisis.
- Disaster clean-up and repair scams: Before hiring a restoration company, ask for a license number, proof of insurance, and references. Read your contract carefully, and never pay until the work is complete.
- Flooded car sales: Damaged vehicles may be spruced up and sold on the used car market, often hundreds of miles away to reduce suspicion. Don’t buy a car with mildew odors or a heavy bleach aroma, foggy headlights, or other signs of water damage.
- Impersonators: If someone contacts you claiming to be a government official, safety inspector, utility worker, or restoration contractor, ask for identification. If they ask for any personal details, such as your social security number, bank account or credit card information, tell them you never provide it over the phone but you will call them if the information is required. Then, call back from a number you have confirmed yourself and trust. If you receive texts from such individuals, don’t respond, unless you have given them permission and are expecting the text. Do not provide personal details through text, email or another unsecure portal.
- Job scams: You should never have to pay when applying for a job. Ignore listings with grammatical or spelling errors, or ones that contain unfounded promises, such as “quick money” or “make six figures from home.” While most employees are working from home these days, a legitimate company will often refer to its openings as “remote” or a “telecommute” position. Go with your gut; if a job posting feels too good to be true, chances are it is.
- Rental listing scams: Looking for a place to live? Steer clear of anyone who asks for a security deposit before you’ve met or signed a lease. If the promise of low rent and great amenities sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
- Loan scams: Legitimate lenders shy away from saying it’s easy to get approved, especially if you have bad credit, no credit, or a recent bankruptcy on your record.
- Charity scams: Scammers may pretend to represent a charitable company. Don’t support a disaster or pandemic relief effort until you research the organization asking for donations.
- Contact tracer scams: Contact tracing is used to notify, interview, and advise people who have had close contact with a confirmed or suspected COVID-19 patient. Reputable tracers will ask for health information, not personal financial information.
- COVID-19 treatment or prevention: Scammers may attempt to sell you products for treating or preventing COVID-19 without proof of their validity.
- At-home COVID-19 test kits: These tests may be inaccurate and are not approved by the FDA.
- Illegal robocalls: Ignore automated calls pitching everything from low-priced health insurance to work-at-home schemes.
- Phishing emails: Always check the email address messages are coming from. Be wary of emails claiming to be from the CDC or WHO. These organizations are unlikely to contact you directly. Visit gov or who.int to get the latest information on the pandemic. Never click on links in emails from sources you don’t know.
If you need help recovering from a natural disaster or require coronavirus cleaning and disinfecting services, DKI can help. We are North America’s largest disaster restoration contracting organization, with over 500 locations, serving homes and businesses since 1974. Contact us today at 844-354-2255 to request the services you require.