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Scammers Taking Advantage of Disaster Victims, Are You At Risk?

If you were affected by the recent storms in the midwest, you could be the victim of scammers who are seeking to profit from your tragedy.

Colorado’s Pikes Peak Regional Building Department put out a warning reminding residents to be cautious at this time when hiring contractors to assist with cleaning tasks and rebuilding their communities.

Greg Dingrando, Chief Public Information Officer for the Pikes Peak Regional Building Department said in a statement last week, “We urge everybody to exercise caution if they are approached.” Take care to check that they’re “properly licensed to do what they are saying they will do.” Verify their identities before moving forward.

In Colorado, you can verify their contact information online at www.pprbd.org/Search/Contractor. Do your homework before you sign a contract and make sure they are properly licensed for the specific repairs and clean up you intend for them to do.

Dingrando says, a contractor who is pushing you,” to “sign a contract right away” saying, ‘let’s do a verbal contract. We won’t need to mess with anything on paper,'” or asking you to pull the permit yourself, may be a scam and you should vacate the call.

Often, they will say, “‘Oh if you pull the permit, it will be cheaper for you than it is for me.'” That’s actually not the case. It’s the same price, no matter who pulls the permit.

“We encourage everybody to have the contractor pull the permit because that puts the responsibility of getting it done in a timely fashion and up to code on them rather than putting the responsibility on the homeowner,” Dingrando added.

If you have any questions you can call your local Regional Building Department.

Know that scammers are calling with claims of working for different health insurance companies and asking for personal information. If you get these calls, hang up your phone immediately and call your insurance company directly using a trusted phone number that you are familiar with.

Because these con artists spoof popular company names, it is often one that you will recognize and many times, you will think they are legit.

If you think you can mediate these complicated issues with companies, you may be a natural for your local Call for Action team. They are always looking for volunteers.C

Have you been a victim of such a scam? Tell us your story or contact us for more information! Feel free to shoot us an email to on Twitter, Facebook, InstagramLinkedIn, or even connect with us directly on our website!

About the Author: Aisha K. Staggers is a writer, lecturer, political analyst and literary agent. She appears weekly for “Staggers State of Things” on the Dr. Vibe Show. Her work has been published by Paper Magazine, AfroPunk, The Spool, GREY Journal, MTV News, HuffPost, Blavity, Atlanta Blackstar, For Harriet, New York Review of Books and a host of other first-run publications and syndicated outlets. Find her on Twitter @AishaStaggers. For more of her work, check out her page here!

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