COLUMBIA, SC (WCSC/WIS) - The South Carolina Emergency Management Division and the state's Department of Consumer Affairs want you to be on the lookout for potential scammers in the wake of the devastating flood.
In the aftermath of historic flooding, the Palmetto State has witnessed stories of neighbors helping neighbors, strangers helping anyone in need, and to such an extent that for some, it may be tough to think about people taking advantage of others in their ultimate time of need. That's why FEMA and the SCEMD are warning residents not to let their guard down.
"They're starting to get into their homes and tear out the drywall and the flooring," FEMA spokesman Leo Skinner said. "They're thinking about rebuilding and how they're going to do that, whether they're going to do it on their own or hire a contractor."
Most contractors are out there to help, but FEMA, SCEMD, and the Department of Consumer Affairs believe you should do your homework first:
- Ask for references from past jobs.
- Check with the Better Business Bureau.
- Use licensed contractors.
- Pay by check to avoid an on-the-spot payment.
"Now is not the time to be lulled into a false sense of security, even in the aftermath, and we've said that consistently through this whole flooding event," SCEMD spokesman Derrec Becker said.
There were reports, especially immediately following the flood, of people claiming to be National Guardsmen, going door-to-door in counties like Georgetown, notifying residents of evacuations. The National Guard, and local EMD officials said they will not do this.
FEMA says if you're concerned the person at your door isn't who they say they are, ask for ID. If they're a government official or soldier, they won't mind you asking questions.
"Don't be shy," Skinner advises. "Ask them who they are, who they're with, what they're doing there and how they can help you. Just be curious."
If you are concerned about a potential scam, Becker says there are groups you can call. First, if someone is on your property and you're concerned they aren't who they say they are, Becker says you can call authorities. If you're concerned about a contractor, call the Better Business Bureau or the Department of Consumer Affairs.