SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - With Hurricane Florence taking aim at the East Coast and several other storms brewing, it's a good time to remind you - fraud often follows disasters.
We have some advice on how to protect yourself during and after a storm in this week's "Don't be a Victim" report.
South Carolina's attorney general is reminding people to be on the lookout for price gouging during the hurricane threat. If you feel like you are the victim of price gouging, take note of where it happened, what you paid, take pictures that identify the business and price if you can, and then report that on the attorney general's website at scag.gov. It's unfortunate, but there are also many scammers looking to take advantage of victims after a storm.
It usually doesn't take long after a weather event, such as a hurricane, for scammers to get right to work, often offering to do tree removal or home repair. Here's some important advice from Georgia's Attorney General to help make sure that whoever you hire is legitimate and that you don't get taken.
"Make sure that you get folks that have a good reputation and you can check their references and never pay up front entirely," said Chris Carr, Georgia Attorney General.
Here are some other things you can do:
-Ask for referrals from friends, neighbors, or coworkers
-Check with Better Business Bureau to see if there have been complaints
-Make sure the person or company doing work is licensed. You can verify this on the Secretary of State's website
-Get written bids from several contractors
-Insist on a written contract with guarantees, warranties, and promises in writing
"Make sure you know how much they are going to charge you and make sure that it covers everything. Never pay the entire amount until you see the work completed and it's completed to your satisfaction."
Also, use a credit card if you can to pay. It will give you more protection against fraud. The attorney general office also says you need to watch for people posing as insurance agents or FEMA representatives in the wake of a disaster.
If any "so-called" representative asks you for a payment, it's a scam, which could make an already bad situation even worse.