While thousands of people have come together to help the those who have lost everything in the floods, authorities say scammers see this moment of tragedy as an opportunity. But officials with the Sarpy County Sheriff's Office say there are things you can do to protect yourself and spot the scams.
Titles can be faked
Con artists may pose as law enforcement, insurance adjusters or even non-profit employees. Authorities say you should always ask for identification. They say you should also call whatever organization they say they work for and ask about that person. You should also never make a donation when you are contacted over the phone and remember government employees will never ask you for financial information.
"Limited Time Only"
The sheriff's office says you should be suspicious anytime contractors or others offering to move you to the front of the line. Another red flag is if someone tries to offer you an "opportunity" that forces you to make a snap decision.
Authorities say scammers often will offer assistance to negotiate a postponement of payments after a natural disaster. Instead officials say you should contact your mortgage servicer for payment assistance, and never pay anyone to negotiate with your servicer on your behalf.
There are several websites that you can use to see if an organization is legitimate. Some of those agencies include BBB Wise Giving Alliance, Charity Navigator and CharityWatch. You can also look up a business on the Better Business Bureau's website.
Report Possible Scams to the Federal and Local Government
The U.S. Department of Justice created the National Center for Disaster Fraud to investigate, prosecute and deter fraud. If you were scammed or believe someone is falsely collecting donations call 866-720-5721. You can also email the investigators at firstname.lastname@example.org or call you local law enforcement agency.