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June 03, 2011

  • News:  Disaster Scams On The Rise 

    A growing number of state, national and world disasters have ravished the lives of millions of individuals from Japan, to Haiti, to the United States and beyond. Without the help and support of millions of caring and compassionate debit and credit cardholders, getting help to the victims would be limited and even more time consuming. With the World Wide Web, donors have the ability to support the victims of these disasters quickly with the use of their debit and credit cards on a number of different websites. Unfortunately, there is always a group of thieves prepared to take advantage of each devastating situation through their self-serving selfishness. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is warning consumers to be aware of fraudsters posing as charitable and home repair organizations out to steal your credit card information and insurance or hard earned money after a disaster.

    The FTC wants to remind victims of such disasters as the ravished tornado victims in the south and Midwest as well as the flood victims along the Mississippi River. Responding to the urgent appeals from charitable organizations may appear legitimate but you could soon learn that you are also the victim of a credit card scam. The FTC advises you to only donate to charities that you know and trust. If approached by a solicitor, ask if it is a paid fundraiser and who they work for. Ask them what percentage of your donation will actually be given to the disaster victims. If this is your first contact with the charity, do not give them your personal or credit card information until you have checked them out and never send cash in the mail.

    Credit card thieves are not the only individuals looking to take advantage of disaster victims; unscrupulous contractors also become more visual immediately following disasters. Looking to cash in on your insurance money, these contractors ask for payment in advance, never do the job, and walk away leaving you penniless. Never pay the full contract amount upfront, but rather negotiate a fair percentage deposit. Only hire well respected and community individuals and companies. Before contracting with any company, the FTC advises you to request a copy of the contractor's general liability and worker's compensation insurance. It is also critical that you check out the contractor's licenses and references. If you think you may have been scammed, call your local law enforcement immediately.

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