FRANKFORT, Ky. – Attorney General Daniel Cameron today issued a consumer alert warning Kentuckians of potential natural disasters and charity scams in the wake of 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.
“Kentuckyans in many of our eastern counties have been hard hit by recent flooding, and we are doing everything we can to protect them from further losses from fraud,” Attorney General Cameron said. “I urge anyone contacted by a scammer regarding a natural disaster-related fraud to report it to our office immediately by visiting ag.ky.gov/scams or by calling 502-696-5485 or the Consumer Protection Hotline at 1-888-432-9257.
In the aftermath of natural disasters, scammers may pose as humanitarian or charitable organizations to steal funds or access banking or personal information. Follow these tips to avoid charity scams:
- Remember that legitimate humanitarian organizations will never ask you for your banking information.
- Donate responsibly to known and reputable sources or recognized disaster relief organizations. The Commonwealth established the Team Eastern Kentucky Flood Relief Fund, accessible by visiting TeamEKYFloodReliefFund.ky.gov. Affected communities have also set up funds and you can check with local authorities for the best way to donate.
- Follow FEMA’s best practices for volunteerism and disaster donation. To see these tips and more, visit the agency’s website website.
Owners of Kentucky homes or properties affected by extreme flooding should also be aware of out-of-town contractors who are knocking door-to-door soliciting business. While not all door-to-door contractors are scammers, some may not have the proper license for your area, offer quick fixes, or make promises they can’t keep. To avoid falling victim to a contractor-related scam, follow these tips:
- Contact your insurance company. If you are insured, discuss your policy coverage and deposit requirements with your insurance company. Ask your expert for an estimate of repair costs. Be sure to keep receipts for food, temporary accommodation and other expenses covered by your policy. Ask your insurance company to recommend reputable contractors to help with repairs.
- Search for contractors or repair companies and get more than one quote. Find contractors on BBB.org, get a referral from friends or family, and check with your local government agency responsible for registering or licensing contractors. Be sure to collect more than one estimate.
- Resist high-pressure sales tactics. Scammers often offer “special rates” if you hire them locally. Don’t feel like you have to make the hasty decision to hire an unknown contractor. Be proactive in finding and selecting a contractor instead of reacting to sales calls or door-to-door presentations.
- Beware of contractors who claim to be “FEMA certified”, represent FEMA, or mention that FEMA gave them your name. FEMA does not certify or endorse private sector contractors. If you receive a call telling you that you qualify for a FEMA disaster assistance program, do not provide any personal or banking information over the phone.
- Do not prepay a contractor or business for their services.
- Do not sign insurance checks to a contractor. Be sure to get an invoice from your contractor and pay it directly, preferably with a credit card, so charges can be disputed, if necessary. Review contracts carefully and do not sign documents that give a contractor the right to your insurance claims.
Although the Attorney General’s Office has not yet received any scam complaints related to the recent flooding in Eastern Kentucky, it is important that Kentuckyans remain vigilant and report scams immediately when 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 pamphlet on natural disasters or for more information on how to avoid natural disaster scams, visit ag.ky.gov/NaturalDisasterScams.