Skip to main content

Scammers follow weather reports just like everyone else — and when disaster strikes, they’ll strike, too. If you know what scams look like after a weather emergency, it’ll be easier to make plans to avoid them. Here are ways those scams play out, and how you can be prepared.

Common Scams After a Weather Emergency

After any weather event or natural disaster, it’s common that unlicensed contractors and scammers may get in touch. They’ll call, email, text, or knock on your door, promising to fix your leaky roof, clean up water damage, or remove a fallen tree. They often won’t give you a written contract and will try to get you to pay in full, in advance. And, if you pay, they might do either shoddy work or no work at all.

In the face of shortages, both before and after a weather event, shady online sellers also may take advantage. They’ll offer in-demand products at unusually low prices. But sometimes they don’t deliver — and they might just take your money without doing the work or shipping your order.

How To Plan Ahead To Avoid Scams

To stay ahead of weather-related scammers, here are steps to take now.

Update your insurance policy. To avoid surprises, check to make sure your insurance policy is current and find out what is covered — and what isn’t.

Check out contractors before you need one. Ask people you know and trust for recommendations. Then search online for the company’s name with words like “scam” or “complaint.” Online reviews might help you decide what company to hire. When considering reviews, it’s good to look at a variety of sources, including well-known websites that have trustworthy and impartial expert reviews. But here are some other steps to take:

  • Check how recent the reviews are, and watch for a burst of reviews over a short period of time. That can sometimes mean the reviews are fake. 
  • Check if the reviewer has written other reviews. If so, read those to get a better sense of how much to trust that reviewer. If it seems that the reviewer has created an account just to write one review for one product, that review may be fake.

Get credentials. Find contractors who are licensed and insured. Check with your state or county government to confirm a contractor’s license. When the time comes to hire, ask the contractor for ID, proof of insurance, and references.

Research online sellers before you buy. When you need materials to prepare for or recover from a weather emergency, ads that promise great deals from companies you know and trust might seem appealing. But unusually low prices are a sign of a scam. If you see an ad for what seems like a familiar company but you’re not sure the ad is real, check it out. Go to the company’s website using a page you know is real — not the link in the ad.

Remember that when the pressure is on, scammers will make promises, ask you to pay upfront, and insist you pay in ways that make it hard to get your money back. Anyone who insists you pay by cash, gift cardswire transfer, payment apps, or cryptocurrency is a scammer. Get a contract and all promises in writing. And, if you can, pay by credit card after the work is done.

To learn more about ways to prepare for, deal with, and recover from a weather emergency, visit

If you think you see a scam, tell the FTC at Your report could help the FTC stop the scammers and help someone else avoid that scam.