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'First, shame on them': Ways to protect yourself, your money after a natural disaster

The FBI Louisville Field Office and the Kentucky Attorney General’s Office are starting to get tips of possible scams.

KENTUCKY, USA — “If you see something, the best advice is to say something,” Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron said.

Days after the historic tornados tore through the Commonwealth, the FBI Louisville Field Office and the Kentucky Attorney General’s Office are starting to get tips of possible scams.

“We're typically looking for people that are trying to take advantage of that normal human emotion whether that's through financial fraud or victimizing people even further than they have been already through,” Supervisory Special Agent Jake Williams said.

Our FOCUS teams collected some tips to help you avoid a scam:

  • Do your own research on charitable organizations or businesses offering goods or services
  • Resist high-pressure sales tactics
  • Get multiple estimates from contractors before deciding
  • Be on guard if you are persistently being asked for personal identifying information like social security numbers and banking information could be a sign of trouble
  • Don’t make any rushed decisions

We know there are some big hearts that want to help but the FBI is encouraging everyone to vet donation efforts.

“Go with known charities, known organizations or if it is in your organization, do research on your own. If you get an email or a phone call, go to the internet research for yourself. If someone says to click on this link, to donate, it may be better to go to that organization's website directly and donate through their website, so basically, trust but verify,” Special Agent Williams said.

How to help Western Kentucky families

PRICE GOUGING

“Our office is responsible for making sure that if there is are any prices that are grossly in excess of the price prior to the emergency declaration, then we have the responsibility of looking out for consumers and citizens of the Commonwealth to make sure that those prices aren't intended to gouge individuals,” Attorney General Cameron said.

He says things people need most like transportation, gasoline, goods, and services, even rent could be targets for unfair price hikes.

To fill file a report go to ag.ky.gov/pricegouging or call 888-432-9257.

RELATED: Price gouging hotline activated in Kentucky

VET RESPONDERS

FEMA will have representatives in the area to help people access relief.

We asked these agencies how to spot someone posing as an official:

  • ask for official credentials and identification
  • ask for a phone number you can call to make sure that person is who they say they are
  • Take a moment to question what your being offered or told
  • Don’t make hasty decisions

WARNING TO SCAMMERS

Both the FBI and the Attorney General’s Office have a strong message to potential scammers.

“Anybody that is trying to take advantage of this really difficult situation. First, shame on them -- it won't be tolerated here in the Commonwealth. Especially when we've got so many people hurting right now,” Attorney General Cameron said. “I want people to be on notice that they're trying to come into Kentucky and take advantage of this moment. We're not going to stand for it. We're not going to tolerate it. We're going to do everything we possibly can to make sure it doesn't happen here.”

“We will eventually find you and we will work to prosecute you to the fullest extent of the law,” Special Agent Williams said.

“One particular victim may not be out a substantial amount of money. But if there are hundreds or thousands of victims, then that amount can grow very quickly. So we're always looking to see commonalities within these fraud schemes. If it is a larger ring of people, for federal crimes, particularly for federal financial crimes, loss amounts will drive sentencings,” Special Agent Williams explained.

REPORT

If you see something that doesn’t seem right, both FBI and the Kentucky Attorney General’s office have ways you can file a report.

KENTUCKY ATTORNEY GENERAL’S OFFICE
To fill file a report go to ag.ky.gov/pricegouging or call 888-432-9257.

FBI

File a report at ic3.gov or tips.fbi.gov.

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