5 On Your Side

Avoid scams following Hurricane Matthew

Posted October 18

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— Whether it’s a hurricane, severe flooding or an ice storm, scammers are quick to take advantage of the emotional vulnerability of a natural disaster.

Attorney General Roy Cooper warned North Carolinians to be wary of people asking to inspect your home, even if they claim to be an inspector from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

"Often people are not as careful during this period of time because they want whatever it is fixed," Cooper said. "If anybody says that you need to pay a fee to fill out a FEMA application, then they're a scam artist. Because FEMA does not charge money to fill out an application for FEMA assistance."

Ask for identification from anyone offering to repair your home or property. Also never pay up front for repairs.

People have also sent out malicious e-mails claiming to be Duke Energy, opening hurricane victims' computer and personal information to scammers.

"(The e-mail) talked about being able to get their power hooked up faster," Cooper said. "Of course people wanted to do that. So you open the email, and it was malware."

Also be wary of charity and donations scams. Before you donate, verify where the money is going and do not give personal information or unprotected access to your bank account.

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