Water-damaged cars for sale: Beware of flood car scams this hurricane season

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— Hurricanes can leave you without power, shelter, and even water. Yet, there’s another danger that stormy weather can bring: The threat of scammers.

As we enter hurricane season, 5 On Your Side shares what you need to lookout for.

“People need to be prepared and just know that whatever storm comes through the scams are going to follow,” explained Alyssa Parker, the communications director for the Better Business Bureau of Eastern North Carolina.

Hurricanes will leave destruction and oftentimes fraud in their wake. While scammers taking advantage of disaster situations and vulnerable people is nothing new, Parker tells 5 On Your Side that folks need to be especially aware of flooded cars this season. After a storm, water damaged cars can sometimes be put back on the market and sold deceptively.

“It’s a really big problem we see and especially now in this car market, where everyone needs a car and there’s none available. We’re concerned we are going to see an uptick in that,” Parker said.

Make sure to see the car you want to purchase in person and ask for the title, check electronic components, open up the hood, and get a vehicle history report from a reliable data base.

Next, avoid fly-by night contractors who will disappear after they receive compensations.

“If someone comes by and says ‘Hey, I’m fixing your neighbors roof, I’d love to fix yours. I see you have damage.’ That is a huge red flag,” Parker said.

Be wary of contractors who come from out of state, and pressure you into making a commitment in the notice. Instead shop around-get three quotes and always ask for references. The BBB has a list of reputable emergency contractors here.

Finally, be wary of people posing as an official with a government relief agency. Anyone claiming to be a federal official who asks for money is an imposter, hang up immediately and call the number listed on that government agency’s official website.

To report suspected fraud, call the FEMA Disaster Fraud Hotline toll free at 1-866-720-5721.