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Beware These 3 Scams in Wake of Hurricane Sandy

Hurricane Sandy has played herself out, but now that people are starting to put their lives back together, a new threat has arisen: scams.

It's unfortunate, but there are always more than a few people who try to take advantage of those in need and those who want to help. That's why it's a good idea to be careful.

When it comes to disaster-related scams, there are some common ways for consumers to become victims of fraud. Be especially cautious when it comes to these scams so you don't get taken for a ride.

  1. Fake charities. After a tragedy, people who weren't affected want to help, and an easy way to do that is by donating to a charity. But beware of email messages from so-called charities, even if the name seems like one you recognize. Make your donations directly to organizations you know and trust, preferably with a check or credit card so you have a paper trail. Don't rely on others to make your donations for you.

  2. Phony inspectors. With all the damage from the storm, there are concerns about health and safety in places that are affected. It's possible a scammer will try take advantage of that by claiming to be an inspector and charging a fee to "inspect" damage to your property or to "check" your water for safety. You shouldn't have to pay your insurance company to inspect claimed damage, and your local government will release information about whether the water is safe to drink.

  3. Fees for loans. When you're strapped for cash, a loan is one solution. But it can take a while to process. Especially after disaster strikes, people are looking for ways to get some extra cash quickly, but beware of programs that "guarantee" a loan if you pay a fee, reports Forbes. Fees should only apply after you're approved for a loan, if at all. Don't pay in the hopes of getting more money for "free."

Don't let scammers take advantage of you and your family. If you're a victim of fraud, get a lawyer on your side and fight back.

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