After Deadly Tornadoes, Tennessee Officials Warn People to Avoid Scam Artists

 

Tennessee Attorney General Herb Slatery’s office has warned state residents about potential scams following this week’s deadly tornadoes that claimed the lives of at least 25 people.

As The Tennessee Star reported, those tornadoes hit Middle Tennessee in areas including Putnam, Wilson, Davidson, and Benton counties.

In a press release, members of Slatery’s office said they want to ensure only legitimate businesses and charities work alongside volunteers to clear debris, repair, and rebuild.

“These storms have devastated the lives and hopes of many. Our communities will step up and help. In fact, they are already doing so,” Slatery said in the press release.

“Unfortunately, these events also attract opportunists who may appear willing to help but really just want to take advantage of the situation and make some quick money without delivering any products or services.”

The Tennessee Attorney General’s Office warned state residents to keep the following tips in mind:

• Don’t fall for high pressure sales tactics. Urgency is a red flag.

• Remain wary of unknown, out of state phone numbers.

• Verify proper licensing before hiring a contractor at verify.tn.gov

“Charity fraud is another common scam that pops up in response to natural disasters. Scammers may solicit donations for tornado victims but pocket the money instead,” according to Slatery’s press release.

“Charity scams commonly come in the form of a phone call but can also include email, websites or social media, and text messaging.”

Signs of a charity scam, according to the press release, may include:

• A copy-cat name that sounds like a reputable charity.  Some scammers use names that closely resemble those of respected, legitimate organizations.

• Asking for cash only donations. Make checks payable to the charitable organization and not to an individual collecting a donation.

• The caller refusing to disclose the organization’s mission, or how the money will be used.

• Lack of proof your contribution is tax deductible.

“If contributing over the Internet, be sure the web site belongs to the charity to which you want to donate,” according to the press release.

“Make sure that the website is secure, such as a web address that begins with ‘https:’ and that it offers protection of your credit card number. Before donating, confirm you are dealing with a reputable charity through the Tennessee Division of Charitable Solicitations: https://sos.tn.gov/charitable/

Find a complete list of consumer disaster recovery tips here: https://www.tn.gov/content/dam/tn/attorneygeneral/documents/consumer/consumer_affairs/consumer_resources/Disaster-Recovery-Brochure.pdf

For more information on home repair and charity scams, click here: tn.gov/consumer

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Chris Butler is an investigative journalist at The Tennessee Star. Follow Chris on Facebook. Email tips to [email protected]
Background Photo “Tennessee Attorney General Building” by Tennessee Attorney General. 

 

 

 

 

 

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