News & Resources

Hurricane Irene breeds fraudulent contractors

Sep 08, 2011 Brian Bradley

The devastation of Hurricane Irene left many homes and businesses in shambles. However, when it comes time to pickup the pieces, homeowners and business owners shouldn't be so quick to pay just anybody to assist in the rebuilding process. According to the Associated Press, natural disasters are often ideal for scammers who claim to offer services, but have ulterior motives in mind. "We call them storm chasers," Cheryl Reed, director of communications for the consumer website Angie's List, told the news source. "Those are people trying to make a buck off of somebody else's misfortune." There were approximately 6,000 complaints of contractor fraud in New Orleans in the two years following Hurricane Katrina. To avoid becoming a victim, it's important to ask alleged contractors to show proper identity verification. Sometimes, fraudulent contractors go door-to-door and offer to help. "It's easy when people are upset and they want to get this started," Loretta Worters, vice president of the Insurance Information Institute, told the media outlet. "You're so distraught that you don't really think about the implications." The Glen Cove, New York Patch adds that some scammers ask for payment upfront or over the phone, and never actually show up to perform the work.