Watch Out for These Hurricane Sandy Scams
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — As the relief efforts continue across the east coast, warnings are being sent across the US about possible scams related to Hurricane Sandy.
It’s not unusual for the bad guys to try and make a quick buck, but there are ways to avoid falling victim. Some scams are immediate, others won’t come to light for a while.
First, if you want to help with the relief efforts, be careful who you give your money to. Second, if you run across a great deal on a used car in a few weeks, you’ll want to do more than just kick the tires before you fork over the cash.
“Taking it upon yourself to know where your money is going is always a good idea,” said Jamie Dierking with the Kansas City chapter of the American Red Cross. The organization has been a symbol of hope since the 1800s to anyone dealing with devastation like Sandy.
Donations are rolling in, but Dierking says if you want to help, it’s important to not get caught up in a sales pitch.
“Be wary of inbound phone calls to you and people showing up at your door,” she said. “It’s better to go out and research that charity yourself and find something online, and give to someone that’s been around for a long time.”
Another potential scam also deals with the destruction from Hurricane Sandy, but it could take a while to surface. It involves selling off flood damaged cars and trucks. The damaged vehicles you see along the East Coast now could end up half way across the US, for sale.
The damaged, even totaled cars, will be bought at auction, given minor repairs, cleaned and re-sold at auction as perfectly good ‘used’ cars. Consumer advocates say they don’t last long, break down easily and quickly lead to costly repair bills and leave you with little recourse.
There are a couple of ways to avoid buying a flood damaged car. First, check the engine compartment, trunk and doorjambs for water lines. If you don’t trust yourself, have a mechanic check it out.
Second, make sure you get a title history report from a company like CARFAX. Every DMV across the company reports flood damage to reputable companies. Visit carfax.com/flood for more information on flood-damaged cars.