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Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

Consumer Note

Air Date: Week of

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Living on Earth’s Jennifer Chu reports on scam artists who follow in the wake of natural disasters. There are now guidelines to help consumers avoid being victimized twice.


CHU: With the start of hurricane season, a reminder that con artists are quick to follow in the wake of natural disasters. Scam contractors prey on the needs of the newly homeless, promising clean-up and shelter and asking for a hefty down payment up front. Sometimes what's left is some shoddy work, or no work at all.

That's why the National Insurance Crime Bureau has recently released guidelines to make sure victims of natural disasters don't get swamped twice. Their advice: get everything in writing, get more than one estimate, never pay in full until the work is finished, and never sign a blank contract.

In 1999, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, recorded more than 1,500 complaints on their fraud hotline from victims claiming to have been swindled, mostly in the wake of Hurricane George. That's this week's Consumer Note. I'm Jennifer Chu.

TOOMEY: And you're listening to Living on Earth.


TOOMEY: It's Living on Earth. I'm Diane Toomey.

(Music: Bernard Hermann, "The Day the Earth Stood Still")



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