Tips to Help with Flood Recovery Efforts
Many First National Bank customers, employees and communities are facing difficult times as they attempt to clean up and recover from recent flood devastation in Nebraska, Iowa and South Dakota. Unfortunately, with widespread and highly publicized floods in the region, insurance, home repair and donation/relief scams are more likely to occur.
Since flood damage repairs bring unique challenges for homeowners, here are some tips to follow when looking for assistance with recovery efforts:
- Call your insurance agent first. Find out if your insurance policy helps cover the cost of a disaster recovery service.
- Check online and with the Better Business Bureau to learn about flood restoration specialists that have received good reviews.
- Get all contractor estimates in writing and seek at least three bids.
- Require the contractor to give you all guarantees in writing and a contract before the work begins. Do not sign a contract with blanks.
- Ask the contractor for proof of general liability insurance and call the insurance company listed on the documents provided to make sure the contractor has an active policy.
- Be skeptical if a contractor says they can offer a lower price by using surplus material. This could mean the contractor overbilled a previous customer or didn’t finish the work.
- Don't let the contractor arrange financing. You could be misled into signing up for a loan with hefty fees and a high interest rate.
- Avoid contractors who come to you unsolicited and try to pressure you into hiring them.
- Don't put down a large deposit and never make full payment upfront.
- Only issue the final payment for flood restoration work after a contractor finishes the job.
- Never pay with cash; always use a check or credit card.
- Put your safety first. Don't let unsolicited salespeople into your home. Scammers can be very aggressive. Turn them away if you have an uneasy feeling. Listen to your instincts and just say "no" and shut the door.
Due to the scope of devastation of the 2019 Midwestern flood and the number of people affected, here are some common scams to be aware of:
Contractor/Repair Scams – Unscrupulous out-of-town contractors, and others pretending to be contractors hoping to cash in on the situation, may arrive in the area. They often ask for large deposits or money up front for repairs, without following through on the promised work.
Premium Payment Scams – Be alert for suspicious-sounding robocalls asking for flood insurance payments. If you receive a call saying you’ll lose coverage unless you make a payment immediately, DON’T DO IT. If you have any questions about your home or flood insurance, contact your insurance agent directly.
Advance Fee Scams – These are scams where you are asked to send money in advance with a promise of getting a product or a service in the future.
Disaster Grant Scams – This is a popular scam where someone promises to help flood victims obtain disaster aid or a grant. They may ask for payment up front for their services.
Donations/Relief Scams – Before making a donation to assist those in need, properly research the organization you are donating to. Make sure you are comfortable with how the funds will be used and that the organization is reputable. Beware of making donations over the phone, especially if the person requesting the donation called you. Phone scams are at an all-time high. In addition, avoid donation methods that seem unusual, like sending money via gift cards, cash or wire transfers.