Unscrupulous companies, contractors, salespeople, lenders, and debt collectors often try to take advantage of disaster survivors. Their most frequent targets include older adults, people with disabilities, and people who speak little or no English, but anyone can become a victim.
For example, contractors involved in fraud may vastly overcharge for their services. They may keep or demand payment for service that is unnecessary, done incorrectly, or not done at all. Consumers should be aware of steps they can take to avoid these situations and should know their legal rights if fraud occurs.
Debt collection also may become an issue for disaster survivors because of the loss of income and the cost of recovery. Sometimes creditors will agree to reduce or reschedule payments for disaster survivors. In other instances, disaster survivors may find that bankruptcy protection is the best way to clear their debts and get a fresh start. There also are disadvantages to filing for bankruptcy, however, so survivors should carefully consider all the pros and cons.