September 04, 2016
via City of Tallahassee
In the aftermath of a storm like Hurricane Hermine, many people think about their immediate needs of shelter, food, water, and safety. During the recovery process, the Tallahassee Police Department would like to provide some safety information to our residents. Most criminals are opportunists. They will prey on people during their weakest times and look for the path of least resistance to commit a crime. Crime prevention experts often remind people to be “hard targets” which means we need to make the act of committing a crime as hard as possible in order to deter the criminal.
Here are some tips to help make our citizens a hard target during the recovery phase of Hurricane Hermine:
Stay away from the person driving around your neighborhood trying to find business (unsolicited) as they go. This person may claim they are doing work for your neighbor or has leftover materials from another job.
Use contractors and service people you have used before or who have been recommended by trusted friends or neighbors.
Check to make sure the contractor you hire is licensed and ask to see proof of insurance. In Florida, you can check the status of their contractor license at www.myfloridalicense.com. Additional and helpful information on using a contractor can also be found on the webpage while verifying a license.
Get several estimates before choosing someone to do the job. Verify their insurance and check to make sure they are bonded.
Don’t give service people money to buy materials up front. Florida law requires a contactor to apply for a permit within 30 days and start work within 90 days if more than 10% is collected up front. For more information, please go to www.myfloridalegal.com.
Do not sign any paperwork claiming the work was completed or make a final payment until you are satisfied with the work.
Be aware of price gouging in the area. If there is a gross disparity between the pre-storm price and after storm price, this is price gouging. The law pertaining to price gouging is only in effect within the county where there is a declared state of emergency. If you suspect price gouging, report it to the Florida Attorney General’s Office by calling 1-866-9-NO-SCAM. More information can be located on their webpage www.myfloridalegal.com.
Charity scams are also popular in the aftermath of a hurricane such as Hermine. Be aware of any solicitors using high pressure tactics or are hesitant to provide information about the charity. A good rule of thumb is to donate to reputable charities you are familiar with in the area.
Water Testing and Treatment Scams are another popular scam. If someone tries to identify themselves as a utility worker, ask for identification and call the utility company to verify their status. For the City of Tallahassee Utilities, you can call (850) 891-4968.
There are many scams and other criminal acts which can occur after a natural disaster. Take your time and ensure you are making the best decision for your financial investment as well as working with your insurance company. If you have any questions, please visit the websites listed above or call the Tallahassee Police Department at 850-891-4200. Visit us on our social media sites for updated information pertaining to storm recovery and crime prevention tips.
City of Tallahassee – Original Post can be found at: http://www.talgov.com/main/news/5320.aspx