Beware of Scams While Looking to Help Tornado Victims

The response to the needs of the Otsego County community has been incredible. 

But with so many people looking for help and those looking to offer it, there are those that want to take advantage.

Nottingham ForestThe people that live in the devastated houses of Gaylord, they are at their lowest right now. The last thing they need is a scam artist to make it worse. Unfortunately that’s when they tend to strike.

“We understand there are going to be kind neighbors and people offering a lending hand for free, which is totally fine,” said Katie Grevious of the Better Business Bureau of West Michigan, “We are talking about those asking for money.”

Most people see this devastation and want to help, others see it as an easy target.

So it’s on those looking for help to watch their own backs. When getting a contractor to help put their life back together, it’s on the homeowner to do their research, unfortunately.

“Get their information, get their company name, get some contact information,” said Grevious, “Do some research before you give anyone money.”

A legitimate contractor would never ask for all the money up front, never agree to that.

And speaking of money, there are those looking to donate and that’s another easy target for scammers, spreading fake charities online.

“Donate it to well known organizations. Organizations that you know are doing something and have an impact in that community,” said Grevious, “And has the resources to do it.”

That also includes crowd funding sources. A page may say it’s raising money for a certain family but unless you can vouch for them, it may be wise to stick with established charities.

“Not only could it be someone who’s just trying to take advantage of the situation, and has no connection to that family or community, but it could also be someone who has a lot of good intentions but doesn’t really have the ability or resources to provide, or get those supplies to the victim,” said Grevious.

Helping should be an easy process but you also want your contributions to be spent wisely. 

“Ask questions,” said Grevious, “Before you give.”

The Better Business Bureau website offers a full list of licensed contractors for you to use when making a selection that can be found HERE.

The Attorney General’s website has forms to fill out if you have been the victim of a scam, that can be found HERE.

Categories: Gaylord Tornado