Not everyone has the best of intentions in the aftermath of a natural disaster, and the City of Jacksonville warns against price gouging, fake charities and home repair scams.

“Unfortunately, some unscrupulous individuals may seek to take advantage of people in their time of need,” according to a press release from the city.

The three most common types of scams found in the recovery period after a natural disaster are price gouging, charity fraud, and home repair scams, according to the release, which are described as:

Price gouging: When a business or individual charges too much for services in order to take advantage of people during a crisis, which is against the law.
Home repair scams: When someone asks for money up front for services then disappears with the money and completes no repair work.
Charity scams: When someone, or an organization, asks for money to assist with disaster recovery but instead keep the money themselves.

“We strongly urge you to consider assisting local charities that demonstrate good practices all year long,” the city wrote. “Many churches, local civic clubs and others are also helping with relief efforts.”

The city suggested looking up charities at the Better Business Bureau and prior to donating in order to identify reputable charities and ask where the money will be spent.

Free debris removal may be available as well, according to the release. Call 211 for more information and, when possible, use a contractor recommended by friends and family, have the contract in writing, pay with a card instead of cash, and get different estimates.

Anyone who falls victim to a disaster recovery scam is asked to call their local law enforcement agency:

Jacksonville Police Department: 910-455-4000
Onslow County Sheriff’s Office: 910-455-3113
Swansboro Police Department: 910-326-5151
Holly Ridge Police Department: 910-329-4076
Richlands Police Department: 910-324-5777

The N.C. Department of Justice can also be contacted at 1-877-5-NO-SCAM to file a complaint.