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AL Estate Planning & Elder Law Blog

Monday, July 15, 2019

Tips for Alabama Seniors to Avoid Storm Scammers

Hurricanes threaten Alabama residents every year when they begin to form in the Atlantic, and they often cause widespread damage when they hit. As residents begin the difficult task of preparing for a storm to hit or rebuilding their homes, businesses, and communities in the wake of the storms, bad actors can arrive looking to take advantage of the situation and can prey on unsuspecting people. 

Unfortunately, seniors are often targets for malevolent scammers. In fact, storm related scams are on the rise as one of the scams that target Older Americans. In light of the increase in scams that are out there, let us share a few of the ways for Alabama seniors to protect themselves. 

- Be alert for fraudulent charities. They often pop-up overnight and claim to help people affected by hurricane damage. Websites like Charity Navigator can help determine whether a charity is legitimate or a scam.

- Be cautious about responding to emails. A good rule of thumb is to never respond to an unsolicited email asking for money, no matter how well-meaning it seems.

- Don’t send cash in the mail. Whether you’re paying a bill or donating to the Red Cross, you can’t be sure the intended recipient will receive it.

- Do not reveal personal or financial information unless you’re initiating contact with a familiar individual, business or government office. Scammers have been known to impersonate government employees and insurance adjusters, especially over the phone. 
- Do not pay someone claiming to be a government employee, such as an emergency assistance worker. Government workers will never ask for payment before doing their jobs.

- If someone comes to your home after a hurricane and claims to work for a federal or local disaster agency, ask to see their identification. Government assistance workers are required to show identification upon request. 

- Do not agree to work with someone who arrives at your home unannounced. Ask for information if the person will provide it and then research this person before purchasing any services.

- If your home is in need of hurricane-related repairs, don’t neglect normal precautions when hiring repair workers or contractors. No matter how urgent the repairs, make sure to do your due diligence and only consider licensed and insured home repair businesses.

If you suspect you’ve been contacted by a scammer, hang up or disengage immediately and notify the authorities. If you feel you may be the victim of a hurricane-related fraud, do not wait to ask for help. We know just how challenging storm season can be and encourage you to ask your questions at any time. 

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