FRANKFORT, Ky. (WDRB) — Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron is warning victims of the western Kentucky tornadoes to be on the lookout for scam artists.
Cameron told WDRB News he is getting unconfirmed reports about scam artists posing as FEMA agents.
“They’re trying to get personal identification, personal information whether it be your social security number or other personal information that might provide access to banking,” Cameron said.
Cameron said home and business owners should be on the alert and be wary.
“Ask probing questions and also ask for any identification,” said Cameron. “FEMA does a really good job of identifying themselves.”
Cameron said his office does have investigators on the ground in the storm zone.
“Just yesterday in Princeton, one of our investigators with the Department of Criminal Investigations worked with Princeton police to apprehend a couple of individuals that were trying to loot at a residence,” he said.
Cameron said there have been 16 reports of price gouging.
“Housing and also gas and propane prices that seem to have ticked up a little bit,” he said.
The price gouging statute was triggered by Gov. Andy Beshear’s declaration of a state of emergency.
“There is potential price gouging whenever there is a price that’s grossly in excess of the price prior to the declaration,” said Cameron.
Cameron said his office is investigating. Those found guilty face a possible fine.
He said property owners should also be aware of fraudulent contractors and construction workers.
“We also ask people to get more than one bid … more than one estimate or quote related to construction from a contractor,” he said. “We don’t want these fly-by-night individuals to sort of leave you with a big bill at the end of the day.”
The Attorney General’s office suggests these tips for avoiding contractor-related scams:
• Contact your insurance company. If you are insured, discuss your policy coverage and filing requirements with your insurance company. Ask your adjuster for an estimate for repair costs. Be sure to save receipts for food, temporary lodging, and other expenses covered by your policy. Ask your insurance company to recommend reputable contractors to assist with repairs.
• Research contractors or repair companies and get more than one estimate. Search for contractors on BBB.org, get a reference from friends or family, and check with your local government agency responsible for registering or licensing contractors. Be sure to gather more than one estimate.
• Resist high-pressure sales tactics. Scammers often offer “special pricing” if you hire them on the spot. Do not feel forced to make a hasty decision to hire an unknown contractor. Be proactive in researching and selecting a contractor instead of reacting to sales calls or door-to-door pitches.
• Beware of contractors who claim to be “FEMA Certified,” represent FEMA, or mention that FEMA gave them your name. FEMA neither certifies nor endorses private-sector contractors. If you get a call informing you that you are eligible for a FEMA disaster assistance program, do not provide any personal or banking information over the phone.
• Do not pay a contractor or business upfront for their services.
• Do not sign insurance checks over to a contractor. Be sure to get an invoice from your contractor and pay them directly, preferably with a credit card, so that charges may be disputed, if necessary. Review contracts carefully, and do not sign documents that give a contractor rights to your insurance claims.
The Attorney General said storm victims are especially vulnerable to scam artists.
“It can seem overwhelming when you’ve lost your whole house or lost your business,” Cameron said. “So, there’s a lot of bad actors out there that are going to try to take advantage of the situation.”
Copyright 2021 WDRB Media. All rights reserved.