Protect yourself from charity and disaster scams

ST. LOUIS – “I mean, it’s heartbreaking because we knew it was going to happen and it actually did,” said Devon Ferrata.

The Ferrata family of Valrico, Fla. are one of thousands cleaning up after Hurricane Ian.

“I immediately called my insurance company, filed a claim for the boat and the house and told them, ‘Hey, it’s damaged,[I]want to start the process,'” Luke Ferrata said.

The process can be much messier for many others. That’s what insurance experts say Scammers are poised to prey on a new wave of vulnerable victims.

“Maybe a contractor will come to your house and say, ‘I’ll get you a new roof, I’ll take care of the insurance company. I’ll talk to you, I’ll adjust it. Let’s look at your policy,’” said Gina Clausen Lozier, a Florida insurance attorney.

Hurricane victims aren’t the only ones to be wary of storm-related scams. Those of us who want to help them must also be vigilant.

“It’s still good to donate, but we want them to do it with confidence and security so the money they’re willing to donate gets to the people who need it most,” said FBI Special Agent Price McCarty.

McCarty says the bureau warns against it Hurricane-related scam schemes. He says be careful what you click on.

“Rather than following a link they might receive in an email or a text message, it’s best to do your own research,” he said.

Scammers often spoof agency phone numbers. McCarty says it’s always best to research the organization’s phone number and call directly to verify

“Legitimate charitable donations will not be in the form of gift cards or wire transfers,” he said.

The Illinois Attorney General’s Office is Warning consumers to watch out for hurricane-damaged cars being sold in Illinois. In August, we spoke to local auto expert Jay Grossman about the influx of flood-damaged vehicles following flooding in the St. Louis area. He says flood cars could return to the market in less than 30 days.

“They try to move these cars as fast as possible. They will go to auctions. Someone will buy it,” Grossman said. Protect yourself from charity and disaster scams

Sarah Y. Kim

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