Just because our area was not directly hit by Hurricane Joaquin does not mean we will not be impacted.
You should remember that once the storm passes, the trouble does not. The bad guys will be out in full force in the aftermath attempting to pray upon the helpless and compassionate amongst us.
There will be scammers impersonating charities. They will do their very best (and their very best is very good indeed) to con you out of your hard earned dollars. They will play upon your sympathy, compassion and good nature. They will attempt to make you feel guilty.
There will also be scammers posing as contractors and contractors attempting to pull scams. They will try to pressure you into great deals, try to get your money up front, promise all kinds of services and disappear once they get paid anything. They will give the legitimate contractors a bad name and make it harder for the good guys.
Seniors will be prime targets for the bad guys.
Pass the word around to everyone you know to watch out for any type of predatory behavior.
Follow these tips and you will have a much better chance of helping the charity of your choice and not be taken advantage of by the bad guys:
1. Do NOT trust your Caller ID. Technology these days allows people to “spoof” phone numbers and names. Just because your caller ID says it is the Salvation Army or CHKD, does not mean it really is them.
2. Do NOT be pressured into making donations over the phone. Any actual charity will have more than one way to donate and will not be offended if you decide to mail your donation or make it through the charity’s website.
3. Do NOT use any website address given to you over the phone. Do an internet search to find the charity’s website for yourself. That is the only way you can be sure you are going to the correct website.
4. Do NOT allow yourself to be guilted into making a donation. Scam artists know how giving and helpful most people want to be by nature. They will prey on your concern and compassion. Any charity attempting the “hard sell” to obtain donations is more concerned about your money than actually helping anyone!
5. Do NOT allow yourself to be pressured by a “one day only” deal, or any other hard sell tactic, offered by a contractor. Remember what we all told our children growing up: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!
6. Do NOT be afraid to ask for references before signing any contract for repair work. No reputable contractor will be afraid to give them – and, once you have references, actually check them!
7. DO check the Better Business Bureau to see if any complaints have been lodged about that company.
8. Do NOT do a deal “on a handshake”. If something goes wrong you will have very little recourse. Get it in writing!
9. Do NOT pay cash – especially for a deposit. If you do, you can probably kiss that money goodbye!
The short version for all of the above is that you should never feel pressured to give to a charity or cut a deal with a contractor. If you are being pressured that should be a major red flag to doing business with that charity/company.
Be Informed! Get Trained! Stay Safe!