Last updated on May 16, 2017 at 02:42 pm
In the aftermath of a superstorm like Sandy, Plymouth Rock Assurance in NJ is proud to see the strength of our communities. We see residents banding together to help people charge their devices, get hot showers, food and drinking water, and to share a shoulder to lean on.
Unfortunately, this is also a time when we have to be extremely vigilant against others who wish to exploit victims of such a devastating natural disaster. Below is a list of ways you can (and should) protect yourself against some of the most common scams during such difficult times. Remember, these scams can take place for weeks after a catastrophe when victims are still vulnerable.
These are some of the most prevalent and awful fraud perpetrators in the wake of storms like Sandy. Contractors often can be seen driving down streets of the hardest hit areas offering their services at discounts with hot coffee in their trucks and smiles on their faces. While most contractors are legitimate, some do not have your best interest at heart. We encourage everyone to do thorough research on any contractor, including making sure the contractor is licensed. Do not begin any work without a contract that includes the contractor’s business name and address.
New Jersey residents have reported being approached by fake charities in the name of Sandy relief efforts. We encourage everyone who is capable to donate to relief efforts, but make sure the charity is reputable. If in doubt, you can always donate to the Salvation Army, Red Cross, or New Jersey Food Bank . If you wish to check on the legitimacy of a charity, you can check with the Division of Consumer Affairs Directory of Registered Charities or call 973-504-6215.
We’ve heard of reports in all parts of the state of price gouging at gas stations, home improvement stores, and other locations where residents were seeking basic amenities to get their lives back on track. According to N.J.S.A. 56:8-107, it’s illegal to boost prices excessively during a declared state of emergency or for 30 days thereafter. You can report suspected price gouging to Consumer Affairs at 800-242-5846 or 973-504-6200. It is helpful to have your receipt handy as evidence.
These scams can take on many forms. Be wary of any unsolicited message that asks you to click a link or respond with any private information. Scammers may take on the shape of fake charities, petitions for victim’s rights, or volunteerism. Remember, almost all charities have reputable websites ending in “.org” and rarely solicit donations via money transfer or wire. If in doubt, delete it.
These are just a few examples of how dishonorable people try to prey on victims of catastrophes like Sandy. There are many, many more good people in our communities going out of their way to help those around them. In fact, it is easier than you might think to volunteer your time, donate food and blankets, or simply let your friends, family, and neighbors know you are here in their time of need.