Flood Victims Warned of Scams Related to Flood Cleanup

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Authorities are urging residents to watch out for people trying to scam flood victims.

So far, local authorities have not received any reports but they are warning citizens to be wary of certain scams that other flood-ravaged areas have experienced.

One of those scams involves people claiming they are from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA.gov) and going door to door, said Major Dennis Fortunato of the Fond du Lac Police Department. He said FEMA would not go door-to-door, would likely set up a claims area or office and would survey the area with local officials.

Officials said people should also be weary of contractors attempting to make money off flood victims. Victims are being warned to use reputable and local contractors to avoid paying more than they should and/or being scammed.


Scammers arrested in Cedar Rapids, Des Moines

There have been no reports of looting in Iowa, but authorities have arrested two men who were trying to enter restricted areas in Cedar Rapids and Des Moines by posing as National Guard soldiers.

Iowa Public Safety Commissioner Gene Meyer says flood victims should be wary of scammers."You know there are numerous types of scams. They include home repair scams involving substandard or incomplete work such as debris removal, sale of unneeded disaster recovery kits, water testing and treatment, advanced fee loans and mortgages. Scam artists will travel many, many miles to victimize people who can least afford it," Meyer says. "Essentially they come in, they take the money, and they run."

In some disasters, impostors have been caught trying to get storm victims to pay cash on the spot to hook up the power, phone or water. "Please keep in mind that a utility worker working for a legitimate company will not ask for a payment to disconnect or reconnect power in any flood-related area...Look for the official utility insignia on the vehicles and the uniforms of the people who may come to your home. Insist that those workers present an identification badge," Meyer says. "...If you have questions, certainly call the utility they represent and check on that situation and report suspicious persons or activities to your local law enforcement agency."

Meyer's advice is to "never, ever" pay for a service in advance. "When con artists try to cheat disaster victims, it is the definition of adding insult to injury," Meyer says.

Meyer encourages Iowans to keep an eye out for their elderly neighbors who may be badgered by scam artists.

Source: Radio Iowa


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