New Jersey authorities are warning local residents about potential Superstorm Sandy recovery program scams.
Officials are advising Sandy recovery program participants to be cautious when contacted by home visit, email, or phone from individuals purporting to represent the programs – especially if those individuals ask for money transfers or personal financial data.
Officials said the state’s Department of Community Affairs has received several reports from Sandy recovery program participants who said they were visited at their homes by individuals claiming to be representatives of the recovery programs, and who requested access to their homes.
Other program participants reported receiving home visits, phone calls, or emails, also from individuals who claimed to be program representatives and who asked for money transfers or personal financial information, according to authorities.
“Our Statewide Sandy Fraud Working Group is pursuing aggressive criminal and civil actions against those who allegedly sought illegal profits in the wake of this national disaster,” New Jersey’s Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman said in a statement last Friday.
“But the best protection against fraud is the vigilance and awareness of our citizens. Never give money or personal information to someone who claims to represent the state’s Sandy recovery programs. If someone seeks to access your home for an inspection, do not let them in without first verifying their legitimacy,” Hoffman said.
“It is outrageous that there are those who seek to illegally profit from the suffering caused by a natural disaster,” said Department of Community Affairs Commissioner Richard E. Constable III.
“There are a number of simple precautions that homeowners and tenants can take to protect themselves from the unscrupulous. A basic rule of thumb to remember is that all significant transfer of important information takes place at one of our Housing Recovery Centers. Be cautious of anyone seeking a transaction that does not take place at one of these centers,” Commissioner Constable said.
Constable noted that there are no fees to enroll or participate in any Sandy recovery program. Representatives of the state’s Sandy recovery programs will not ask for payments during a home visit or via phone or email. Recovery program participants should simply ask the person to leave their home, hang up the phone, or ignore any email that asks for payment.
Constable said legitimate representatives of the state’s Sandy recovery programs may need to access the homes of program participants. However, any legitimate program representative who conducts home inspections will have proper photo ID. Participants should therefore demand that the person show his or her photo ID, he said.
Consumers seeking additional information may call the state’s Sandy call center at 1-800-SandyHM (1-800-726-3946). To report suspected fraud, consumers can call the Attorney General’s statewide Sandy fraud hotline at 855-SANDY39 (855-726-3939) or go to www.StopSandyFraud.org.
Source: Office of The Attorney General