Combat scams as you brace for a storm
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WEAR) —
Hurricane season makes us vulnerable to inclement weather but Floridians should also prepare to combat common scams after a storm.
According to Florida's Attorney General's Office, citizens made more than 3,100 price gouging complaints after the state of emergency was declared for Hurricane Matthew. The department reviewed complaints, refunded when they could nad inestigated dozens of claims, according to a news release. To date, the litigations and investigations have resulted more than $60,000 in restitution paid to victims and more than $70,000 in penalties paid to Florida. Many of the investigations are still ongoing.
Florida's Attorney General Pam Bondi is encouraging residents to review the 2017 Hurricane Preparedness Guide, which gives advice, a supply checklist and information on tree-removal, building repair and disaster relief scams.
“Our Hurricane Preparedness Guide is full of helpful information and advice to better prepare for a storm and avoid common storm-related scams,” said Attorney General Bondi. “The best advice is to prepare now. Use our hurricane supply checklist and make sure you have enough food, water and supplies to support your family in the wake of a disaster," Bondi said.
Here are ways to survive a storm and scams:
Be on the lookout for price gouging. Florida law bans the unconscionable increase in prices in the rental or sale of essential commodities such as lumber, ice, water, generators and shelter once a state of emergency has been declared;
Be familiar with evacuation routes, and stock up on food, water and emergency supplies;
Proceed with caution if a product claims to be hurricane-proof or impact-proof;
Be wary of any contractor who approaches unsolicited or offers to perform repairs at a discount with leftover supplies from another job; and
Know that numerous charities crop up after natural disasters. Some of these charities are legitimate, while others are run by scam artists looking to profit off of the goodwill of others.
If you suspect a scam or would like to report an incident of price gouging, call (866) 9-NO-SCAM or file a complaint online at MyFloridaLegal.com.