Kentucky State Police Post 1 announced Sunday it has received several complaints regarding fraudulent disaster relief workers.
According to a State Police news release, these people may be posing as FEMA representatives, American Red Cross workers, insurance adjusters, contractors for debris removal, or general contractors.
While there are reports of fraudulent workers, authorities said there are also legitimate FEMA Disaster Survivor Assistance teams, housing inspectors, and other officials working in affected areas. Legitimate FEMA representatives carry official identification badges with photo IDs and they will have your FEMA application number.
State Police said FEMA and U.S. Small Business Administration representatives never charge applicants for disaster assistance, inspections, or help with filling out applications for federal assistance. FEMA representatives will never promise a disaster grant in return for payment and are never authorized to collect personal financial information.
State Police has received information from the National Insurance Crime Bureau to help those affected by tornadoes ensure they are using legitimate contractors for cleanup and repair. If homeowners suspect fraud during the rebuilding process, authorities said they should contact their insurer, local law enforcement and the NICB (800-TEL-NICB).
State police shared tips to avoid contractor fraud, provided by the NICB, which include:
• Get more than one estimate. Never let a contractor pressure you into hiring them.
• Work only with licensed and insured contractors.
• Demand references and check them.
• Ask to see the salesperson’s driver’s license and write down the driver’s license number and their vehicle’s license plate number.
• Get a contract in writing. It should include cost, time schedules, payment schedules, guarantees, work to be done and other expectations that should be detailed.
• Never sign a contract with blanks as these could be filled in later without your knowledge.
• Never pay a contractor in full or sign a completion certificate until the work is done and ensure reconstruction is up to current code.
State Police also said there's been several reports of looting and thefts in the affected areas.
If you see people taking items from properties where they don't belong, contact law enforcement. State Police, Kentucky National Guard, and local law enforcement are providing saturated patrols to fend off this criminal activity. Report suspicious individuals or activity to State Police at 270-856-3721.