10/31/2012 2:17 PM ET|
5 scams to avoid after Sandy
Major disasters like the superstorm always bring out bottom-feeders who will try to steal your money or your identity.
This post comes from Kelly Santos at partner site Credit.com.
Identity Theft 911 has compiled a list of scams to avoid and a few easy tips to make sure your good name stays intact:
Fake charitable organizations. Watch out for scammy charitable organizations that have names similar to those of reputable institutions. These sites often end in .com (instead of the typical .org for nonprofits). They're designed to fool you into thinking you're donating to a good cause, when, in reality, you're donating your money and personal and financial information to thieves.
Illegitimate websites. Double-check the legitimacy of the site you're clicking to from email, Facebook or elsewhere. When in doubt, check your local American Red Cross or the Federal Emergency Management Agency website to find local help.
Insurance scams. If you've experienced damage to any of your personal property, call your insurance company first. Don't fall for fly-by-night "professionals" who make false guarantees about a claims check, damage appraisal, inspection or water quality testing.
Identity thieves. Protect important information and documents. Whether you're in a shelter, staying with friends or crashing on your family's couch, never let these items leave your protection. They are the keys to your identity -- and you may need this information to prove who you are. Another tip: Ask the post office to hold your mail if you have to leave your home. This will keep the bad guys from finding sensitive information that may be left in your mailbox.
You should always take an active rolein protecting your credit and identity. The law allows consumers to pull one credit report per year from each of the three major credit reporting agencies -- for free -- by calling (877) 322-8228 or by visiting AnnualCreditReport.com.
Finally, give your bank, credit union, insurer or financial planner a call to see if it offers identity-theft management services. Some financial institutions offer this service for free, as a perk for being a member or account holder.
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