Delaware Attorney General warns against Hurricane Irene scams

In the aftermath of Hurricane Irene, Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden says it’s inevitable that scammers looking to cash in will try to take advantage of Delawareans.

“The sad fact is that there are criminals who are always looking to take advantage of innocent people following a natural disaster,” Biden said. “Whether you are repairing damage to your home or yard, or looking to donate to a charity to help others, there are a few steps you should take to ensure you do not fall victim to a scam.”

Biden’s suggestions for homeowners in need of repairs or debris removal:

Be wary of door-to-door solicitations
Obtain at least three bids for a project
Do not pay the full amount up-front; don’t make your final payment until the work is completed to your satisfaction
Always obtain a written proposal, including cost estimate; consider obtaining multiple proposals and cost estimates
Insist that contractors show proof that they are licensed and insured
Use established and well-recommended contractors; obtain and contact references of past customers
Check with the county or city to see whether a contractor is licensed or registered and whether permits and inspections are required for the work
Contact the Better Business Bureau online to check out a contractor or call 302-230-0108.
Ask for written information about a charity
Be suspicious of copycat charities with similar sounding names as established organizations
Check out specific charities before making a donation; You can verify charities through the BBB, Charity Navigator or the American Institute of Philanthropy

If you think you’ve been scammed or have received a suspicious call or email, Biden asks you to call the Attorney General’s toll-free Consumer Hotline at 1-800-220-5424 or email the AG’s Consumer Protection Unit at consumer.protection@state.de.us.

“The sooner someone lets us know they suspect a criminal is trying to prey on them the sooner we can act to hold the offenders accountable,” Biden said.

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