During the recent disaster there were many people in need. There were many good people who set out to help those in need. There were also people who see an opportunity to take advantage.
We had a local reader relate her experience with a handyman that led her to press charges. She was looking for help after the storm and responded to a Facebook post with the picture of a young man holding his daughter.
Some signs that someone may be trying to take advantage of you is that they want large amounts of money upfront. Sometimes the claim is that they need to buy supplies or that they are really busy and they will work for whoever pays them first. You need to try to avoid giving money upfront if possible. Maybe you can meet the handyman at the hardware store and pay for the supplies or buy the supplies yourself.
The problem is that time is of the essence, the quicker you clean up, the quicker things get back to normal. Also you can reduce the amount of damage that happens to your property by fixing leaks and repairing erosion. This urgency is one of the reasons that the scammers look at disasters as an opportunity.
If you provide money upfront, there is the litany of excuses as to why they have not done the work. These could be ‘I forgot to show up,’ ‘I have been so busy,’ ‘My other job is running long and I will start on your job next,’ ‘I am injured and I had to go to the hospital,’ or ‘My child is sick.’ These excuses are to buy time and hopefully convince you to just write off your losses.
Especially when you are in distress it is paramount to protect yourself from people trying to take advantage of you. The more information you can gather on someone who is offering to do work for you the better. You can ask for references, search on their name and look for mutual acquaintances who may be able to vouch for this person.
If you do get taken advantage of please contact law enforcement, since this is probably happening to many other people who are not reporting it.