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CHIPS Articles: Hurricane Harvey Recovery

Hurricane Harvey Recovery
Avoiding fraud while picking up the pieces
By CHIPS Magazine - September 1, 2017
Americans are known for their energy, resilience and innovation. While Hurricane Harvey crippled much of Southeastern Texas and flooding continues, it’s no surprise to read that those devastated by the record-breaking storm are anxious to roll up their sleeves and begin rebuilding.

While the process of recovery could be overwhelming, there are resources to help you plan for the return to normalcy.

The Federal Trade Commission offers tips and links to resources as well as advice on how you can steer clear of the various scams that typically follow a natural disaster.

  • Contact your insurance company. Ask what the next steps are in assessing damage to your home or business.
  • Your home and its contents may look beyond saving, but it’s possible many of your belongings can be restored. With luck and hard work, your flooded home could be cleaned up, dried out, rebuilt, and reoccupied.
  • Be skeptical of people promising immediate clean-up and debris removal. Some may demand payment up-front for work they never do, quote outrageous prices, or simply lack the skills, licenses, and insurance to legally do the work.
  • If you’re looking for a place to rent during recovery, be cautious of rental listing scams. Scammers often advertise rentals that don’t exist to trick people into sending money before they find out the truth.
  • Many people will be asking for your personal information. Make sure you know who you are dealing with. Ask for identification before you share your Social Security or financial account numbers. Scammers sometimes pose as government officials, and ask for your financial information or money to apply for aid that you can request on your own for free. Government officials will never ask you for money in exchange for information or the promise of a check.
  • Many were caught by the flooding unexpectedly and had to leave their homes without IDs, checks, credit and debit cards, and other important documents. You also might be without access to a bank account or paycheck for some time. If you need to get money, understand your options for paying bills and replacing important documents. This list of contacts may help you regain your financial footing.
  • Call your creditors and ask for help. If you’re a homeowner, even if your home is uninhabitable, you still have a mortgage. Contact your lender to discuss your options.

For more tips, please visit the FTC’s Dealing with Weather Emergencies site—and godspeed in your recovery.

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