Beware of scams as hurricane season is upon us - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Beware of scams during hurricane season

The Louisiana Attorney General (AG) is warning people to be on alert this hurricane season for scams before, during, and after a storm. Sam Pleasant with the AG's public protection division says they see scams year-round, but specific frauds tend to increase post hurricanes.

For example, identity theft is one many people do not think of during storm preparation, but leaving behind personal documents can lead to identity theft.

"Discontinue your mail or reroute it so identity thieves don't get to it because identity theft occurs year-round but particularly after a disaster because people often forget to take their personal documents with them when they're evacuating," said Pleasant.

When Gov. Bobby Jindal declares a state of emergency, Louisiana's price gouging law goes into effect. That means gasoline sellers, hotels, motels, and retailers are prohibited from raising prices during that time period unless they incur a verifiable increase in the price they have to pay as part of doing business. If people suspect price gouging, they're urged to call the AG's Consumer Protection Hotline at 800-351-4889.

Keep an eye out for any phony emergency response officials. Do not hand over any personal information or documents without calling your insurance company or government agencies to double check if they sent a representative.

Do not donate to any charities you do not trust because post storms, Pleasant says, result in numerous fake charities. Instead, try to donate to web sites you trust or charities you are already familiar with.

If a storm damages your home, you will have to get repairs. But after a hurricane is when many fraudulent contractors come out looking for business.

"Make sure that the person is licensed. Never pay cash upfront and only give about a ten percent down payment and never pay in full until you're completely satisfied with the job," said Pleasant.

If you see any contractor fraud, charity scams, or other disaster-related fraud, call the AG's Consumer Protection Hotline at 800-351-4889.

Copyright 2014 WAFB. All rights reserved.

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