CONCORD, N.H. – New Hampshire residents and business owners recovering from the effects of Tropical Storm Irene, from Aug. 26 to Sept. 6, need to be alert for and report potential fraud during recovery and rebuilding efforts.
Those who suspect anyone – an inspector, a disaster survivor or a contractor – of fraudulent activities should call the New Hampshire Consumer Protection Bureau's hotline from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday at 1-603-271-3641 or file a written complaint at www.doj.nh.gov/consumer.
Here are consumer safety tips from federal and state agencies:
- Government workers will never ask for a fee or payment.
- Always request identification from anyone who visits your home claiming to be from a government office. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and state workers carry identification and expect to be asked to show it.
- Do not provide credit card or banking information to anyone who calls on the phone or comes to your home unannounced.
- Get three written estimates for repair work. Be sure to check credentials and contact your local Better Business Bureau or Chamber of Commerce to learn about any complaints against the contractor or business. Do not pay for work in full before the job is completed.
- Before work begins, make sure you get a written contract detailing all the work to be performed, the costs, a projected completion date, and how to negotiate changes and settle disputes.
- Before you sign a contract, be sure you also get a written cancellation notification policy. It should be clearly written into the contract who will obtain the necessary permits, what is guaranteed, who is responsible for the guarantee and how long the guarantee is valid. Do not pay in cash when dealing with contractors.
- If someone approaches you and attempts to intimidate or pressure you, call your local police officials.
To register for FEMA assistance – log on to www.disasterassistance.gov, by Smartphone at m.fema.gov or call FEMA's toll-free number, 1-800-621-FEMA (3362). Those who use TTY, call 1-800-462-7585 directly. For 711-Relay or Video Relay Service (VRS), call 1-800-621-3362. All numbers are available from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.
FEMA's mission is to support our citizens and first responders and 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.