Natural disasters are a common topic of conversation given all the recent fires and earthquakes that have been happening. California especially has been in the news due to the damage and concerns brought about by Mother Nature.
It is common for scammers to jump into action almost immediately after these disasters occur. They see an opportunity to take advantage of unsuspecting victims and look for ways to profit from the disaster.
Taking Advantage of Unknowing Victims
Scammers often target natural disaster victims by offering renovation services or other scams that are designed to fraud the insurance company. Scammers can get creative when they see that thousands of dollars are available from insurance payouts. Seniors tend to be at risk in these situations because they don’t see the potential scam. As a result, personal information and insurance details are handed over without doing due diligence on the service provider.
At the same time, people who aren’t affected by the natural disaster might also be targeted. For example, seniors might start getting phone calls or doorstep requests for financial donations. Bogus charities pop up. These “organizations” claim that the money will be used to help families displaced by the disaster. The reality is that the scammers take the money and run.
Ask your insurer what to do and what to expect in the event of an emergency. For example, will they set up a disaster hotline? Also ask them how you can verify if someone who contacts you is legitimately representing them (or the California Earthquake Authority). Keep these instructions with your emergency kit.
Protect Yourself and Your Family Members
Never hand out your personal information, credit card number, bank account details, or insurance data to someone who contacts you out of the blue. Even if they are claiming to help, there is a chance that the person might be looking to scam you.
Make sure to talk to family members about the potential risk, especially elderly people who might not understand the dangers of financial fraud. Talk to them about the strategies that scammers are using. Also, implement strategies to protect your loved ones, such as monitoring their bank account and tracking the payments that are processed.
This information is intended to inform the public at large about this important issue. It is not intended to serve as legal or medical advice.