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AG warns of natural disaster, charity scams following extreme flooding in Eastern Kentucky

In News, State by OC Monitor Staff

FRANKFORT, Ky. — Attorney General Daniel Cameron today issued a consumer alert warning Kentuckians of possible natural disaster and charity scams following the extreme flooding in Eastern Kentucky. Scams can be reported to the Attorney General’s Office by visiting ag.ky.gov/scams or by calling the Attorney General’s Natural Disaster Fraud Hotline at 502-696-5485 or the Consumer Protection Hotline at 1-888-432-9257.

“Kentuckians in many of our eastern counties have been hit hard by the recent floods, and we are doing everything we possibly can to protect them from additional losses due to fraud,” said Attorney General Cameron. “I urge anyone who is contacted by a scammer about natural disaster fraud to report it immediately to our office by visiting ag.ky.gov/scams or by calling 502-696-5485 or the Consumer Protection Hotline at 1-888-432-9257.”

Following natural disasters, scammers may impersonate relief or charitable organizations to steal funds or access banking or personal information. Follow these tips to avoid charity scams:

  • Remember that legitimate relief organizations will never ask for your banking information.
  • Give responsibly to known, reputable sources or recognized disaster relief organizations.  The Commonwealth has established the Team Eastern Kentucky Flood Relief Fund, which can be accessed by visiting TeamEKYFloodReliefFund.ky.gov. Affected communities have also established funds, and you can check with local officials about the best way to donate.
  • Follow FEMA’s best practices for volunteering and donating following a disaster. To view these and other tips visit the agency’s website.

Kentucky home or property owners affected by extreme flooding should also be aware of out-of-town contractors going door-to-door to solicit business. While not all door-to-door contractors are scammers, some may lack the proper licensing for your area, offer quick fixes, or make promises they can’t deliver. To avoid becoming a victim of a contractor-related scam, follow these tips:

  • Contact your insurance company. If you are insured, discuss your policy coverage and filing requirements with your insurance company. Ask your adjuster for an estimate for repair costs. Be sure to save receipts for food, temporary lodging, and other expenses covered by your policy. Ask your insurance company to recommend reputable contractors to assist with repairs.
  • Research contractors or repair companies and get more than one estimate. Search for contractors on BBB.org, get a reference from friends or family, and check with your local government agency responsible for registering or licensing contractors. Be sure to gather more than one estimate.
  • Resist high-pressure sales tactics. Scammers often offer “special pricing” if you hire them on the spot. Do not feel forced to make a hasty decision to hire an unknown contractor. Be proactive in researching and selecting a contractor instead of reacting to sales calls or door-to-door pitches.
  • Beware of contractors who claim to be “FEMA Certified,” represent FEMA, or mention that FEMA gave them your name. FEMA neither certifies nor endorses private-sector contractors. If you get a call informing you that you are eligible for a FEMA disaster assistance program, do not provide any personal or banking information over the phone.
  • Do not pay a contractor or business upfront for their services.
  • Do not sign insurance checks over to a contractor. Be sure to get an invoice from your contractor and pay them directly, preferably with a credit card, so that charges may be disputed, if necessary. Review contracts carefully, and do not sign documents that give a contractor the right to your insurance claims.

While the Attorney General’s Office has not received scam complaints at this time related to the recent flooding in Eastern Kentucky, it is important that Kentuckians remain vigilant and report scams immediately by visiting ag.ky.gov/scams or by calling the Attorney General’s Natural Disaster Fraud Hotline at 502-696-5485 or the Consumer Protection Hotline at 1-888-432-9257.

To view a copy of Attorney General Cameron’s Natural Disaster brochure or for more information on avoiding natural disaster scams, visit ag.ky.gov/NaturalDisasterScams.