(WTNH) – Connecticut Attorney General William Tong and the Department of Consumer Protection are warning residents about the possibility of disaster relief and clean-up scams following Tropical Storm Henri.
Tropical Storm Henri brought wind and rain to Connecticut on Sunday, which knocked out power to thousands and homes and caused damage to towns across the state.
After past significant storms, Connecticut residents have reported individuals posing as utility workers or contractors to make repairs to come.
Utility companies and authorized contractors always carry identification, and none will ask for payments from consumers.
“Some of us may be dealing with downed trees, power outages or damaged property in the wake of Tropical Storm Henri and it can be very tempting to take someone’s offer to fix the problem quickly,” Attorney General Tong said. “When these extreme weather events hit, bad actors see an opportunity to prey on people who are suffering and desperate for solutions and will offer fraudulent home repair services, jobs or pose as charities collecting money for victims. Always verify the legitimacy of a contractor or business offering to do work for you and don’t fall victim to their tactics — if it sounds too good to be true, it’s probably a scam.”
Here are the most common weather and disaster-related scams:
· Clean-up and repair scams: Scammers often offer clean-up or repair services at a low price, and without a contract. By law, home improvement projects must have a contract. Consumers should research potential contractors before making a decision, ask for credential information, identification, proof of insurance, and make sure there is a written signed contract detailing the work that will be done. You can verify credentials by visiting http://www.elicense.ct.gov.
· Charity scams: In the aftermath of large natural disasters you may want to donate money to support the recovery process. Scammers take advantage good intentions by creating fake charities and advertising them to potential donors. Always research a charity before giving by visiting sites like www.CharityNavigator.org, www.GuideStar.org, or www.give.org, and ask questions about how your donation will be used. If someone uses high-pressure tactics to convince you to give, it’s probably a scam. Any charity soliciting in the State of Connecticut must be registered with DCP.
· Job scams: Natural disasters sometimes cause unemployment, creating an opportunity for job scams. These scammers can be very convincing and often advertise on legitimate platforms. Remember that you should never have to pay to apply for a job, or to start a job – and if a job posting guarantees employment, you should be suspicious.
· Used car scams: During hurricanes and severe storms, vehicles can be destroyed or have severe water damage. Scammers may try to cover up this damage and sell these cars out of state. Be wary of buying used cars after natural disasters, and always do a thorough inspection and ask for the cars history.
To report a scam, call 860-808-5318 or file a complaint at https://www.dir.ct.gov/ag/complaint/