GREELEY — Times of disaster such as last month’s flooding across the Front Range are crucial times to be on the watch for scams associated with home repairs and with charitable donations.
The Weld County District Attorney’s Office issued an advisory last month warning residents to be on the lookout for potential scammers.
“Natural disasters always bring out helping hands and helping hearts, but unfortunately, they too often bring out scammers wanting to help themselves to other people’s money and willing to take advantage in a time of need,” the D.A.’s office declared in a news release. “Already instances of scams have been popping up in Colorado, where thousands of residents are left without homes or with severely damaged homes.”
The scams take on two major forms: home repair and false solicitations for donations.
For those dealing with damage or wanting to help others in need, here are some tips to follow:
• Give to reputable/known charities with a proven record such as the American Red Cross (www.coloradoredcross.org), the Salvation Army (www.imsalvationarmy.org ), United Way (www.unitedway-weld.org) and the Weld Food Bank (www.weldfoodbank.org ). All are assisting flood victims throughout Northern Colorado.
• Remember most legitimate charities websites use .org instead of .com, and beware of organizations with names that are similar to but slightly different from reputable charities.
• Check out charities through a third-party before giving. The local Better Business Bureau or the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office are options to verify a charity.
• Beware of emails, door-to-door and mail pitches soliciting donations.
• Avoid giving cash and instead donate with a credit card, debit card or check written out to an organization, NOT to an individual.
• Never give out personal and financial information.
• Call 2-1-1 or visit www.helpcoloradonow.com for ways to help.
• Hire a reputable contractor that you have checked out through a third party source such as the Better Business Bureau.
• Verify the address of the contractor and that the business is insured.
• Ask for and check references.
• Get more than one bid for your work and make sure the bids are itemized and detailed.
• Do not pay cash, do not agree to a large down payment and get all the details in writing. Do not make the final payment until the work is complete to your satisfaction.
• Be specific from the beginning of the scope and quality of work to be done, the total cost of the job and the timeframe for completion. Get this in writing.
• Beware of people who go door-to-door offering repairs.
• Do not give in to high-pressure tactics. Take your time and check out who you are hiring before signing a contract or paying a deposit.
• Remember, if it seems too good to be true, it almost always is.
If you believe you have fallen victim to a fraud, call law enforcement immediately.