Louisiana Attorney General Buddy Caldwell released a statement today urging residents to prepare themselves in advance for the 2013 hurricane season, which begins on June 1.
“As hurricane season quickly approaches, I encourage all Louisiana citizens to prepare now for the possibility of a storm,” Caldwell said.
Beside the usual peril a storm brings to the Gulf Coast region, Caldwell reminds residents to be on the look out for other kinds of dangers.
“Unfortunately, hurricane season is also a time in which unscrupulous con-artist try to capitalize on your misfortune.”
“Often in the wake of a natural disaster, papers containing personally identifiable information are misplaced or fall into the wrong hands, complicating the recovery process and putting citizens at risk for identity theft.” Caldwell said.
Taking the necessary precautions to safe guard personal documents and other important information now, will makes it harder for criminals to obtain your information after a natural disaster.
Additionally, once a state of emergency is declared, the Louisiana laws against price gouging go into affect, which prohibits the raising of prices above the pre-emergency levels unless there is a verifiable price change attributable to national or regional market changes or commodity shortage.
The Louisiana Attorney General is also asking residents to be cognizant of scams involving contractor fraud, phoney disaster relief, as well as, phoney charities which seem to plague the region after a natural disaster.
Before giving any personal information to anyone posing as a government agency employee or insurance adjuster, be sure to confirm their identity by calling their company or agency directly.
If your home is damaged by a natural disaster, make sure you seek out a reputable contractor. Checking their qualifications and obtaining more than one estimate for the repairs, will help you avoid problems later, the AG office said.
In the last few years, the widespread use of social media provides fertile ground for scammers to exploit the generosity of Louisiana citizens wishing to donate to the victims of a natural disaster. Before you give out your credit card number to anyone, be sure to visit www.guidestar.org to check the legitimacy of the charity.
To report contractor fraud, charity scams or other consumer related scams, contact the Louisiana Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Hotline at 1-800-351-4889.