Digital safety firm warns of increase in disaster-related scams

Published: Aug. 3, 2022 at 6:10 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

Scammers are getting creative this storm season and online security experts are warning of some common scams to look out for.

"One of our biggest concerns was not only the hurricanes but any kind of extra weather," Taura Wible, who lives in Lake Park, told Contact 5. "Because born and raised in Pennsylvania, it's very different than Florida."

Wible said that's why she and her family immediately started learning how to prepare for storm season when they moved to Florida last year.

"I have cases of water bottles in the car. I have flashlights. I have battery-powered fans," Wible said.

Along with those preparations, seasonal scams that are created to target people like her were also a concern.

"You just have to really be stern with them because they really do try and talk their way in," Wible said.

It's something online security experts say is growing, especially during storm season.

"Be extra vigilant. It's amazing how creative threat actors can be this time of year. It's kind of sad at the same time," Zulfikar Ramzan, chief scientist with the digital safety firm Aura, said. "No. 1 is people setting up fake sites for FEMA loans, or disaster recovery loans. You get people to apply for these loans, your information is stolen and is used for identity theft subsequently, and of course they get no loan in return."

Ramzan said these people sometimes come to your door, claiming to be a representative with FEMA. He said you should always ask to see their badge, not just a FEMA shirt or vest.

Some scammers will also pose as property inspectors in order to get sensitive information from you, such as your Social Security number and bank information.

"These folks will never ask you for personal information up front without really putting out all the bells and whistles in terms of being able to validate who they are," Ramzan said.

Also, if someone is offering to sell you an insurance policy for a much lower cost, it is most likely a scam.

Scripps Only Content 2022