Scammers often use natural disasters such as flooding to take advantage of a community’s generosity and people’s heightened need.
The Vermont Attorney General’s Office is sharing a list of potential scams that all Vermonters should be aware of – whether you are looking for relief assistance or looking to make a donation.
- Government Imposter Relief Scams in which a scammer may claim to be FEMA or another government organization offering help for a fee, or demanding your personal information.
Avoid this scam: Connect with FEMA directly and follow updates from the Governor and Vermont Emergency Management.
- Phony Charities that claim to be recovery efforts when they are not.
Avoid this scam: Do your research and only give to valid charities that you have thoroughly researched and vetted. Use tools like the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance and Charity Navigator to research charities before you donate.
- Dubious Contractors without business credentials that claim they can restore damages immediately, requiring upfront payment, but never return to complete the work.
Avoid this scam: Never pay in full upfront for a home improvement project. Make sure you have a written contract. Review the Attorney General’s home improvement fraud registry for past criminal fraud convictions. Check residential contractor registration status with the Secretary of State’s Office of Professional Regulation.
- Utility Disconnection Scams demand payment along with threats to disconnect the consumer’s services.
Avoid this scam: Hang up and contact your utility provider directly about your account status, using a number you know to be valid.
When you encounter an unexpected or new interaction, take steps to verify whether it may be a scam by slowing down, logging the contact, reaching out to others and doing research. Warn others about scams by reporting the scams you encounter to the Consumer Assistance Program (CAP): ago.vermont.gov/cap.
Price Gouging, unconscionable price hikes on essential services or goods, is illegal during a declared state of emergency. If you have concerns about potential price gouging, please report them to CAP by phone at 800-649-2424 or online at ago.vermont.gov/cap.