After round one of storms that barreled through Oklahoma May 6th, Attorney General Scott Pruitt warned that there would be the potential for scam artists to work their trade in the days following a disaster. Year after year, these scams evolve even taking more of an online component with them. If you or someone you know was effected by the storm, be on the lookout for scams taking place in your own neighborhood. Here are some things to look out for so you can avoid being scammed.
1) Always ask for credentials and their office manager’s name. In many cases, you’ll get an email or a handwritten letter from a representative to help walk you through the paperwork or logistics. Legitimate organizations will always have a hierarchy that they answer to. Ask for it, but if they don’t have one, turn them away or go to the police. In other cases, they will come to your door and solicit. The same holds true in face-to-face confrontations.
2) If a person walks to your door, be sure to ask one basic question – Are you commissioned by (enter your insurance company or church organization/league)? True aid workers work within an organization or are commissioned by an organization, such as insurance adjusters, agents, etc. If the person who is soliciting their services to you hesitates to answer or if they work independently, they are likely a scam artist.
3) Ask where they office out of. This is one key distinction between scam artists and real workers. Honest, trained aid workers, whether they are church organizations offering help or other non-profit organizations will always have a physical address that you can be referred to should you need to find them later. If they cannot furnish an address, they are not worth talking to.
4) Pay attention to the content of the email. There are several things for which to look in regards to this: grammar, spelling, whether they have your location correct, and their return information. If a number starts with the “+01” prefix, they are overseas. Immediately delete the email. Outside of that scenario, if the grammar and spelling are poor, that’s a good indication they aren’t real.
5) Are they asking for pay? Non-profits never ask for money (they can’t by law). On the same token, insurance agents don’t ask for money, but instead only settle through claims. Lawyers do much of the same. Don’t give anyone your financial information even in the name of help.
Being early in the storm season there is bound to be plenty of scam artists working the streets of Oklahoma. Sharpen your wits and outsmart them by asking the right questions and using your best discernment.