Watch for consumer scams

Many times after a natural disaster, it’s possible that price gouging, refinancing schemes or home repair scams will pop up.

To help guard against these incidents, make sure you:

Don’t pay any money without reviewing and signing a contract, ask for references, proof of insurance and licensing (as required by your city and/or state) , and resist any pressure to make quick or uninformed financial decisions.

Protect against identity theft.

If your home was severely damaged, your belongings misplaced or you were required to leave your residence, you may be at risk for identity theft. You may want to consider placing a fraud alert on your credit report so creditors will follow specific procedures before opening new accounts in your name or making changes to existing accounts. To activate a fraud alert, call one of the three main nationwide reporting companies at the numbers listed below.

Equifax: 1-800-525-6285
Experian: 1-888-EXPERIAN (397-3742)
TransUnion: 1-800-680-7289

A fraud alert is a federal right for victims of identity theft, and there’s no cost to you to activate one. It allows creditors to get your report information as long as they take steps to verify your identity.
To place an initial fraud alert, contact one of three credit bureaus and let them know you believe you’re a victim of identity theft. Confirm that the bureau you speak to will share the alert with the other two (it’s the law that they do) and know that the initial alert will be active for 90 days.

Avoid a contractor dispute.

If your church or property was damaged, chances are you’ll be working with one or several contractors. We are here to help make the process run smoothly!

Make sure a contract is in place before work begins – and have it reviewed by an attorney beforehand.
Ensure the contract itemizes all costs for labor as well as supplies, along with a defined timeline for completion.
Choose a reputable contractor who can furnish references, licensing and proof of insurance

Know Rent/ Mortgage Rights

After a hurricane, you may have issues with your property ranging from determining who is responsible for cleaning up to knowing when to keep making rent or mortgage payments. Because state laws and individual insurance policies vary, check with your insurance company or local authorities to know what applies in your situation.