About the author

Sean A first hand witness to thousands of homes and businesses damaged or destroyed by disasters, Sean Scott, a second generation building contractor specializing in disaster restoration, became aware that survivors were ill equipped to take the steps to recovery. Unaided, or misguided, disaster survivors struggle to successfully navigate the complex process, and so, The Red Guide to Recovery – Resource Handbook for Disaster Survivors was born. Used by fire departments, relief organizations, government agencies, and communities across the U.S., The Red Guide to Recovery helps countless people prepare for and recover from disaster events.

Category: Recovery Tips

Avoiding Disaster Scams

December 13th, 2011

The Red Guide to RecoveryThe following information is a segment taken from Chapter 14: Avoiding Disaster Scams from The Red Guide to Recovery – Resource Handbook for Disaster Survivors.

Five Tricks of a Con Artist

After a disaster, con artists often canvass neighborhoods looking for opportunities to take advantage of the survivors.  Here are five ways that scam artists may try to take advantage of those affected by a disaster.

1)  They give you something for nothing

When someone you don’t know well gives you something for nothing, be alert.  Be aware of the feeling of obligation that the other person has created in you.  Is that person manipulating you into buying or doing something that is not in your best interests?  The offer of a “free gift” sets you up for a high-pressure sales pitch.

2)  They make you like them

Con artists will spend considerable time befriending their intended victims. They often select individuals who live alone, are elderly, or who are otherwise vulnerable, cultivating their trust and affection.  Con artists are often attractive and look professional. They may use flattery, making their intended victims feel appreciated, listened to, and cared about. These people are often quite good at picking up on people’s personal interests, beliefs and preferences solely for the purpose of pretending to have these things in common.

3)  They make you think it’s now or never

This is just about the oldest trick in the book. The seller tells you that an offer is good for a limited time only – it’s the chance of a lifetime, and supplies are limited. Every high-pressure sale is made in an atmosphere of urgency: hurry, don’t wait, don’t think, it’s a golden opportunity, and you would be a fool to miss it. Your natural impulse is to grab the opportunity.  Be aware that the appearance of fleeting availability may make you feel compelled to buy.

4)  They say they’re going to make you rich

It is impossible to be prepared for all the different stories cons will make up to explain how you are going to come into a fortune.  They may even ask whether you want cash or a direct deposit in your bank account. But the hard reality is that you are going to be the first one to write a check. You will find you need to pay a fee, a cost of wire transfer, insurance, tax or some such thing in advance. Don’t do it!

5)  They make you believe it worked for others

Word of mouth is an excellent source of information for any consumer. Anyone hiring a contractor, for example, should ask for the names of other customers to call for references. However it is important to note that testimonials are only useful if they are from other real, unbiased consumers who can be contacted independently.  A collection of written testimonials provided by the seller (even if it includes real-looking names, addresses and photographs) is another matter. It could be real, but it could be fake. Testimonials and references only count if you can talk to real people independently of the seller.

The bottom line: con artists make you trust them. “Con” is short for confidence. The con artist’s art is making you feel confidence – in him or her and what they tell you. Con artists get what they want from you by winning your trust and establishing their own credibility in your eyes.

For more information on Avoiding Disaster Scams, get The Red Guide to Recovery – Resource Handbook for Disaster Survivors, now available as an e-Book from Barnes & Noble.com or the iTunes/Apple Store.

About the author

Sean A first hand witness to thousands of homes and businesses damaged or destroyed by disasters, Sean Scott, a second generation building contractor specializing in disaster restoration, became aware that survivors were ill equipped to take the steps to recovery. Unaided, or misguided, disaster survivors struggle to successfully navigate the complex process, and so, The Red Guide to Recovery – Resource Handbook for Disaster Survivors was born. Used by fire departments, relief organizations, government agencies, and communities across the U.S., The Red Guide to Recovery helps countless people prepare for and recover from disaster events.


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