Dealing with the aftermath of natural disasters can be extremely overwhelming. In these times of desperation communities near and far tend to pull together and work in a collective effort to get things back to normal. Unfortunately these situations also attract many individuals with negative intentions who are looking to capitalize on the people in the affected areas.
Although the recovery process is very stressful within itself. In order to avoid added mishaps it is important to take the proper precautions to keep yourself from being vulnerable to fraud, scams, and breaches.
Hackers and scammers know that people are displaced and vulnerable following natural disasters. There are a few precautions you can take in order to prevent these people from accessing your information.
Only carry essential documents with you
Avoid carrying multiple credit cards or forms of identification (i.e. birth certificate, social security card, passport) in order to prevent identity theft. In the event that you had to leave behind these documents in an emergency evacuation be sure to cancel bank cards and replace vital documents immediately.
Be cautious when giving out personal information over the phone
Often times following disasters scammers imitate government officials in an attempt to access your financial information. Only give out personal information if YOU initiated the call and you are sure the information is going to the agency that it is intended for.
Only enter personal information online when using secure servers
When using unsecured networks, hackers may be able to position themselves in the middle of your connection and access whatever data you are inputting.
Make sure others are keeping you safe
Ensure that anyone with your personal information or records such as an employer is keeping them safe and inaccessible to unauthorized users.
Door To Door Repair
Many contractors gather in severely damaged neighborhoods following natural disasters. Although, some have genuine intentions to help with repairs at a reasonable price, others are looking to capitalize on damage by charging ridiculous prices or promising to do work that they have no intention of ever actually completing. If you are dealing with damage to your home following a natural disaster you should first contact your insurance adjuster (if applicable) to get an estimate of repair costs. If the insurance is not able to help and you choose to work with a door to door contractor follow these tips in order to get things repaired as safely and reasonably as possible.
Don’t rush a decision
In order to make accurate price and damage comparison get multiple estimates from different companies.
Do your research
Look up the contractor on the Better Business Bureau and also look up reviews from past customers on home improvement websites.
Get it in writing
Make sure to get estimates, work done, schedule, payment terms, and any other expectations including any guarantees and a right to cancellation within three business days in writing.
Be cautious with your signature
Do not sign completion papers until the work is done to your satisfaction. Be sure to read all contracts in full and never sign a contract with blanks.
Check for insurance
Require the contractor to show proof of disability and workers compensation insurance to ensure that you are not liable for any accidents that occur on your property.
Often times businesses take advantage of disastrous situations by excessively raising their prices on essential goods and services such as water, fuel, and home repair. If you encounter a business participating in this illegal act you should first, initiate a conversation with the provider respectfully informing them that price gouging is illegal and can be prosecuted. If the issue is not able to be resolved with a conversation, then you should contact the Attorney General’s Office at 1-800-621-0508 or file a complaint online at http://www.texasattorneygeneral.gov/cpd/file-a-consumer-complaint.