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BBB: Tips to avoid Hurricane Ida scams

Published: Sep. 1, 2021 at 7:26 PM CDT
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PINE BELT, Miss. (WDAM) - The Better Business Bureau is warning those affected by Hurricane Ida to beware of scammers. Natural disasters often bring out the best in people, but unfortunately, it’s also a time when scammers come out.

“You need to be careful who these people are,” John O’Hara, CEO of the BBB Serving Mississippi said. “A lot of times they are people from out of state or they could be people from in Mississippi that are just trying to take advantage of the situation. "

O’Hara says there are a few things to keep in mind when receiving help for damage caused by Ida.

“You’ll see people coming from out of state offering help, but they’re really not offering help,” O’Hara said. “They are maybe not qualified to do the work that they’re trying to do. They are just trying to get deposits on money. Trying to take advantage of people’s emotional tugs, by going door to door, knocking on doors offering to put tarps on the roof or cut down trees.”

He says verify who you’re doing business with and don’t become a victim twice.

“Don’t become a victim of the storm and then become a victim of losing money to a bad contractor or somebody who can’t do the work,” O’Hara said.

O’Hara says you can visit their website at bbb.org and look up a contractor.

“If you’re not sure who to contact, you can always call us at 601-398-1700 and we can help point you in the right direction or at least get some information on the people you’re about to hire,” O’Hara said.

As for people looking to help those affected by the storm, O’Hara says to make sure to verify charities.

“What happens during these disasters, and of course our neighbors to Louisiana got it a lot worse than we did, Mississippians are always in the top three in giving,” O’Hara said. “So, we become targets of charity scams. One place that you can look up charities that are looking to help is a BBB website, which is called give.org

He says you can verify a charity on give.org. In addition to charities, he also says to verify GoFundMe fundraisers.

“They make take pictures of other victims or borrow pictures of victims and claim that they’re the victim and they could be sitting somewhere else in the United States without any issues and they’re trying to raise money,” O’Hara said.

To make sure you are donating to storm victims, GoFundMe has launched a centralized hub to identify all verified fundraisers related to the storm.

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