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Storm Warning: Protect yourself from disaster scammers

Have a plan. Know your plan. Practice your plan.

We all know what we should be doing to stay storm safe, but what about the digital storm?

How do we protect our new digital lives during a disaster? And how do we protect them from storm relief scammers? How do we stay in control when everything feels out of control?

Here are some ways to strengthen your storm strategies to save time, money and heartache.

Prepare yourself by creating an online spreadsheet of all your important information. Keep the document locked and only share it with someone you trust.

Turn on Find My iPhone and share your location with your family and trusted contacts. These tricks will have you ready to face an emergency but be most aware of storm chasers.

Storm chasers are scammers who follow the destructive paths of disasters. These disaster artists often go door to door as contractors, insurance agents, or even FEMA reps.

In a consumer report following Hurricane Sandy, 22% of respondents felt they had been exploited.

  • Always ask for identification and never sign over any rights to your insurance claims.
  • Always ask for invoices and pay with a credit card that offers fraud protection.
  • Never let a contractor inspect a place you can’t see. Some scammers might actually create damage to get work.

And when in doubt? Contact your insurance company and check sites like the Better Business Bureau to find companies you can trust.

Beware of crowdfunding charity scams claiming they will help affected areas, but really just pocket your cash. Always verify all information and never open suspicious emails. You can check out sites like Charity Navigator or GuideStar to find trusted places to give.