Know the scams that may follow a natural disaster
Watch out for fake contractors:
Following a disaster, unlicensed contractors will canvas the impacted areas promising to get clean up or repairs done quickly. They may ask for payment up front and not show up to do the work, or have you sign a contract that redirects insurance payouts to them and not you.
- Do your research; get multiple quotes for comparison, and make sure the contractors are licensed.
- Use caution if you’re pressured to pay up front for the job or sign over the insurance claim. Contractors may try to offer special deals that seem too good to be true.
Avoid being taken advantage of when donating:
Make sure you know where the money is going and that you’re giving it to the right person or organization.
- Do your research and make sure the organization is legitimate. Look it up on the internet and check for complaints or scams.
- Be careful if giving through social media and other online fundraising platforms. It's safest to give to people you know and trust.
- Be cautious of how you pay when donating and use caution if asked to pay in unusual ways. Keep a record of your donation.
Know how to spot imposters:
No matter where they say they’re from or who they’re representing, imposters have the same goal – to get you to pay them money or give them your personal or financial information.
- Stay vigilant about being pressured to act quickly and don’t act unless you’ve verified the person who has contacted you and that the story or request is legitimate.
- Know that disaster relief organizations typically do not charge fees to apply for assistance.
- Ask for proof of ID and remember: if you’re asked for financial information, it could be a scam.
If you suspect you’re a victim of fraud, contact us immediately at 1.800.MERRILL (637.7455) or speak to your financial advisor for further assistance.