Survivor beware: Scam artists target vulnerable areas after a disaster

Survivor beware: Scam artists target vulnerable areas after a disaster

Part of being prepared for disaster is knowing how to protect yourself from criminals who prey on people in vulnerable situations.


Illegal activity such as price-gouging may begin before a disaster even strikes, and scams continue for years in forms including rental fraud, contractor fraud and fake charities. Follow the tips below to protect yourself and your family.


  1. Building Repairs: Before starting work, get a contract in writing, and request three days to review it. Be aware that it is illegal to require full or partial payment before disaster-remediation work in Texas. You should also verify your prospective contractor’s insurance, ask for references from past customers and use the Better Business Bureau and Internet search engines to research their companies. It is also best to get multiple estimates, avoid out-of-town businesses and never trust someone claiming to be a “FEMA-certified” contractor — there is no such thing. For more information on averting contractor fraud, visit
  2. Home Rentals: Before you rent a home or apartment, search the Internet for the information in the listing. If you find the same information with a different name, it may be a scam. Also beware of ads that are vague or lack detail. Never wire money, and never pay rent or a security deposit before you’ve visited the home, met the landlord and signed a lease. To learn more about averting rental scams, see
  3. FEMA Imposters: Never let someone into your home without a FEMA-issued photo ID. If you get a call about FEMA assistance, don’t provide any personal information except your FEMA-issued registration number. FEMA workers at your home will never ask for[…]

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