TALLAHASSEE, Fla.—As the 2016 hurricane season begins, Attorney General Pam Bondi is reminding Floridians to be prepared and have a plan in place should a storm make landfall. Today, Attorney General Bondi is releasing her 2016 Hurricane Preparedness Guide with tips to prepare for a major storm, a supply checklist, warnings of potential storm-related scams and more.
“We cannot prevent a hurricane from hitting our state, but we can be prepared and help minimize the chances of physical and financial harm,” said Attorney General Bondi. “Not only does my hurricane guide provide Floridians with an essential supply checklist, it also highlights scams consumers should watch out for before a storm makes landfall and when dealing with the aftermath.”
The following tips from the guide can help consumers protect themselves from storm related-scams:
· Be on the lookout for price gouging. Florida law bans the unconscionable increase in prices in the rental or sale of essential commodities such as lumber, ice, water, generators and shelter once a state of emergency has been declared;
· Proceed with caution if a product claims to be hurricane-proof or impact-proof. Ensure that the products safety claims have been validated by the Florida Building Commission or a local building authority;
· Be wary of any contractor who approaches unsolicited or offers to perform repairs at a discount with leftover supplies from another job. Have the homeowner’s insurance company evaluate any damage prior to performing repairs and verify that the contractor is licensed with the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation and insured prior to signing a contract; and
· Know that numerous charities crop up after natural disasters. Before donating, research the charity by contacting the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to determine whether it is registered to solicit donations in Florida and what percentage of its funds goes to the actual work of the charity.
To download a copy of the hurricane guide online, click here. Consumers can also request a printed copy by contacting the Citizen Services hotline at 1-866-9-NO-SCAM.