How to protect yourself against potential hurricane-related scams

A building is left damaged by Hurricane Laura, Thursday Aug. 27, 2020, in Lake Charles, La. (Bill Feig/The Advocate via AP, Pool) (Bill Feig, © 2020 The Advocate)

HOUSTON – As people begin to assess the damage left by Hurricane Laura, it is important to be watching for those who are trying to take advantage of storm victims and those looking to help.

The FBI’s Houston Division issued a warning and some tips on how people can protect themselves from fraud.

According to the warning, “scammers may go door to door to target residents in areas affected by hurricanes,” so be vigilant.

To help, the FBI offered these tips.

Tips for identifying a scammer

  • Government employees are required to carry official ID and show it upon request.
  • According to FEMA, anyone with a government assistance agency will NOT call or text asking for financial information.
  • There is no fee required to apply for assistance, according to FEMA.
  • Charities or organizations should not ask for donations through gift cards, cash, virtual currency or wire transfer.

Tips for avoiding being scammed

  • Only donate to charities you know and trust. If you choose to donate, make your donation using check or card.
  • Closely scrutinize and identification presented to you.
  • Call the agency the person is from and verify their identity.
  • Do not click on any links or open attachments in an unsolicited email or give any personal information out online.
  • Do not give out information without confirming the legitimacy of the person or organization you are dealing with.

The FBI said if your property has been damaged, contact your insurance company and FEMA. You can also follow guidance from local government officials.

If you believe you have been the victim of hurricane-related fraud, contact the National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) at 866-720-5721 or file a complaint online. You can also report suspicious e-mail solicitations or fraudulent websites to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center here.

About the Author:

Daniela Sternitzky-Di Napoli has been a digital news editor at KPRC 2 since 2018. She is a published poet and has background in creative writing and journalism. Daniela has covered events like Hurricane Harvey and the Astros World Series win. In her spare time, Daniela is an avid reader and loves to spend time with her two miniature dachshunds.