Beware Wednesday: Scammers target survivors of natural disaster

FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) – As dozens of families pick up the pieces of their homes destroyed by fires in central California, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) ​​warns of scammers targeting victims of natural disasters.

In this week’s Watch Out Wednesday, we look at how scammers target victims of natural disasters.

“No one is immune to being hacked and having their information compromised,” said Blair Looney, president of the Central California BBB.

In July, the Oak and Washburn fires devastated the North Valley as the two hells destroyed more than a hundred buildings.

As homeowners come to terms with their loss, the BBB warns of scams targeting victims who have lost vital documents like passports, social security cards, driver’s licenses or birth certificates.

“All of these documents are replaceable,” Looney said. “That’s what the scammers know and so they pretend to be that government agency.”

After devastating floods in Kentucky, the BBB said the scammers were hiding behind fake text messages offering replacement driver’s licenses to flood victims, the text included links to websites asking for money and personal informations.

The BBB said these scammers often continue to text and call people saying they need to replace Medicare, Medicaid or Social Security cars, all at additional cost.

“It’s a tragedy what these people are doing, who are plotting them,” Looney said.

BBB security tips to avoid these scammers:

  1. Recheck URLs
  2. Duplicate website referral with BBB scam tracker
  3. Shopping online with a credit card in case of fraud
  4. Check to see if your state or federal government offers free replacement of documents due to the natural disaster
  5. Try not to use third-party providers

The BBB recommends getting a fireproof box to store important documents in the event of a natural disaster/