Scam alert: Avoid losing money to criminals in current scheme

Arriving within the U.S. together with the brand new yr are numerous winter storms slamming varied areas of the nation, together with the Central Plains, Great Lakes and New England.

These winter climate occasions inevitably carry with them some hazard and numerous hassles.

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Included amongst these are icy roads and sidewalks that pose apparent threats to non-public security.

Beyond that, individuals are compelled to deal with energy outages, frozen pipes and shoveling snow. Health issues can even come up attributable to an excessive amount of publicity to the weather, corresponding to frostbite and hypothermia.

But the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has now issued a warning about some scams criminals have interaction in to revenue from others’ distress.

An individual is seen getting a automobile prepared for the street after a snowstorm. The Federal Trade Commission has issued a client alert about scammers trying to revenue illegally from winter storms.

Kevin Levick/TheRoad

How to look out for unlawful schemes

The FTC printed a client alert on Jan. 9 explaining that scammers are listening to the paths of storms with a view to goal unsuspecting victims.

“Weather emergencies mean big bucks for scammers and unlicensed contractors,” the alert acknowledged. “They’ll appear right after a storm and offer to get your power back on, make essential repairs, or help with whatever you need. But if you pay them, they’ll take your money and disappear, charge you for things you don’t need, or leave before completing the work you paid them to do.”

The FTC mentioned one of many schemes includes utility employee imposters.

“Utility imposters work year-round, but after a storm, they might call or knock on your door saying they need to repair or replace equipment,” the company wrote. “Then they’ll ask you to pay. Don’t pay them. That’s a scam.”

It’s additionally necessary to solely rent contractors who’re licensed and insured.

“Check with your state or county government to confirm a contractor’s license,” it urged. “Ask the contractor for proof of insurance and a written contract.”

The client alert additionally highlighted the truth that you must by no means pay in money.

“Paying by credit card offers you some protections,” it mentioned. “And only pay in full after the work is done and you’re satisfied with it.”

Other scams to pay attention to

If a winter storm does adequate harm to your property or livelihood in order to trigger you to be completely or quickly estranged from both, scammers are ready for these alternatives as properly, the FTC mentioned.

“Be wise to rental listing scams,” the FTC wrote. “If you’re looking for a place to live, steer clear of people who tell you to wire money or who ask for security deposits or rent before you’ve met or signed a lease.”

“Some scammers hijack a real rental or real estate listing by changing the email address or other contact information, and placing the modified ad on another site,” it continued. “Other rip-off artists make up listings for places that aren’t for rent or don’t exist, and try to lure you in with the promise of low rent or great amenities.”

If you end up out of labor, pay attention to job scams as properly.

“To trick people looking for honest work, scammers advertise where real employers and job placement firms do,” the company mentioned. “They lie about your chances of getting a job and often ask you to pay before you get one — which is a sure sign of a scam.”

If you think a rip-off, the FTC desires you to report it and the company listed an internet site to make use of the place you are able to do simply that. 

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