LAREDO, Texas – It’s an unpleasant fact that disasters sometimes bring out scam artists, price gougers and other unsavory figures.
State and federal recovery officials overseeing recovery efforts from Hurricane Alex are cautioning survivors to be on the lookout for confidence artists posing as reputable contractors.
"Unfortunately, some unscrupulous people try to take advantage of people who are attempting to put their lives back in order," said State Coordinating Officer Ben Patterson. Patterson said scam artists strike when people are most vulnerable, using false promises and bogus business practices to defraud disaster victims.
Price gouging also is a practice inflicted on people in distress. Residents are urged to be wary of any price that appears to be high.
“Any outlay of $50 or more deserves double-checking,” Patterson said. “Don’t make hasty decisions. Tell people who come to your door to come back, no matter what pressure they try to exert.”
Report suspicious or fraudulent activity to the Consumer Complaint Hotline at
1-800-252-8011 or file a complaint online at www.texasattorneygeneral.gov. You may also report unscrupulous activities to the FEMA Disaster Fraud Hotline at 1-866-720-5721.
For more information on the Hurricane Alex disaster recovery, browse the features on this FEMA Web site at www.fema.gov/hazard/hurricane/2010/alex/index.shtm. Users of smart phones and other mobile devices can visit m.fema.gov. Texans should also visit www.txdps.state.tx.us/dem for more information on this disaster and preparation for future disasters.
FEMA's mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.