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Beware of price gouging and scams in wake of Hurricane Idalia

FPL ready to restore power once Hurricane Idalia clears
FPL ready to restore power once Hurricane Idalia clears 02:01

(CBS Miami) -- While many people open their hearts and go out of their way to be helpful in the wake of natural disasters like Hurricane Idalia, some less scrupulous individuals are out to make a quick buck at the expense of those who are experiencing hardship during these sorts of calamities. 

Official state agencies, including the attorney general's office in Florida, Georgia, and other states affected by Idalia, are available to help residents and homeowners who may have been taken advantage of by individuals and companies that have swooped in, ready to make a quick buck, and instead of providing a valuable service, created an even bigger problem for the residents to solve. 

"Con artists will try to take advantage of those impacted by severe weather," said Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr. "We know this is a difficult time for many, and our office stands ready to assist any consumer who thinks they have encountered a potential scam."

Hurricane Idalia Slams Into Florida's Gulf Coast
People work to free a vehicle stuck on the shoulder amid storm debris as Hurricane Idalia crosses the state on August 30, 2023 near Mayo, Florida. The storm made landfall at Keaton Beach, Florida as Category 3 hurricane. (Photo by Sean Rayford/Getty Images)

These scam artists, sometimes referred to as "storm chasers," may ask homeowners for up-front payments to deal with home repairs before taking off without ever doing any of the work. This can include roof repairs, tree removal, car repairs, and other types of necessary work or repairs. 

In other cases, they may charge exorbitant prices for what ends up being substandard work, leaving the homeowner to have to pay to have the work done over again. 

At other times, scam artists may offer to cover homeowners' deductibles, before persuading them to give fake reports to insurance companies. This could potentially involve the homeowner in an insurance fraud case. 

  • Always call your insurance company first. They will have inspectors on the ground and ready talk to you about your property.
  • Always stay away from anyone who demands full payment upfront for work, only wants cash, or who refuses to give you a written contract for the proposed work. 
  • Be wary of door-to-door offers for home repair work. Get referrals for credible workers.
  • Stay far away from anyone who offers to pay your insurance deductible or offers other "no cost" incentives. Always talk to your insurance company before agreeing to any storm-related repairs. 
  • Ask contractors for references, and check them out.
  • Check with the Better Business Bureau to see if there are any complaints against the contractors. 

Your state's consumer protection office will have contacts regarding state licensing, as well as reporting procedures for anyone who you feel is not providing proper service to you. 

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