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BBB Wisconsin reminder: scammers are a sad reality after a natural disaster

It's sad but true.

After a natural disaster scammers will look to take advantage of flood victims and those who want to help.

Jim Temmer of the BBB Wisconsin says there are three scams they usually see:

Flood scams involving charity.

Temmer says only use a reputable group or company.

Pay with a credit card, never cash.

"You have to be very careful," Temmer says. "People will pull on your heartstrings. But there are people taking advantage. Make sure it's a reputable company. There have been drives for water, for food, for clothing to help the people of Burlington. Those have been successful. But if you meet somebody at a mall, odds are they're going to pocket that money."

Fly by night contractors.

Temmer says while you might feel pressured, don't fall victim to scammers who want cash up front.

"Call people. Get three estimates. Get everything in writing and a contract. Pay a third up front. Do not pay cash."

Flooded cars that often make their way for sale.

Temmer says examine the title history of the car.

"Look for condensation inside the dials or rust. If the wires are hard underneath the dashboard, that's another key."

Temmer says there have also been cases in the past where people impersonate FEMA agents.

They either ask for cash or personal information to steal.

Temmer says FEMA never asks for money and make sure to look for identification.

It's not just historic flooding that can threaten your personal information.

BBB Wisconsin says it's common sense, but you have to be careful about where you store your most important documents.

"Dont keep your personal belongings in a card board box in the basement and a fire proof safe is also a good thing to have."

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