TALLAHASSEE, Fla.—The 2015 hurricane season, starting June 1st, is fast approaching and Attorney General Pam Bondi urges Floridians to be prepared for the impact of a major storm and the scams that may follow in its aftermath.
“Unfortunately, scammers use disasters to prey on consumers, and even though we cannot stop a hurricane from making landfall, there are a few things consumers can do to make sure they are not victimized in the wake of a storm,” said Attorney General Bondi.
The Attorney General’s Hurricane Preparedness Guide can be downloaded here. Consumers may also request a printed copy by contacting the Citizen Services hotline at 1-866-9-NO-SCAM. In addition to a supply checklist and tips to prepare for a storm, the guide informs consumers about ways to protect themselves from storm related-scams. Common hurricane scams include: building repair scams, disaster relief scams, tree service scams, and water testing and treatment scams.
Below are a few tips from the guide:
· Recognize price gouging. In a state of emergency, it is against Florida law to rent or sell or offer to rent or sell at an unconscionable price any essential commodity, dwelling unit or self-storage facility. Essential commodities include goods such as, food, gas, ice, lumber, shelter, and water. The renting or leasing of hotel or other accommodations are also subject to the law;
· Protect your home accordingly. Watch out for products claiming to be hurricane- proof or impact-protective. Request validation of the product’s approval by the Florida Building Commission or a local building authority to authenticate any performance claims; and
· Verify credibility. In the aftermath of a storm, make sure to research and validate the credibility of debris removal services and check for proof of license and insurance before hiring a contractor for damage repair.
Floridians who suspect scams can call 1-866-9-NO-SCAM or report a violation online at MyFloridaLegal.com.
[table id=9 /]