Predatory phone calls are hoping Harvey victims pick up the phone quickly

The symbolic 'red phone' was a direct line to the U.S. Department of Defense. Photo by Chana Elgin

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The age-old dark art of scamming has found a new outlet for fleecing people: flood insurance.

According to the Washington Post, automated robo-calls are being made to flood victims telling them that unless they pay their supposedly past-due premiums right now, their flood insurance will be cancelled.

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FEMA is aware of the scam and has already put out a message warning people about the phone calls.

“That is pure fraud. You should only be taking information from trusted sources,” Roy E. Wright, director of FEMA’s National Flood Insurance said in a statement.

RELATED: Chicago escaped Hurricane Harvey, but will it be caught in this storm?

Unfortunately, natural disasters like Harvey tend to attract unscrupulous con artists in their wake, looking to make a profit from the suffering of other people in vulnerable positions.

Scams can vary from these automated calls to shady contractors getting people to sign a contract for work on an electronic tablet and printing out a price thousands of dollars higher than the one shown.

Saundra Brown of Lone Star Legal Aid recommends you always get a legitimate contract in writing, and never hire anyone you don’t trust to handle repairs on your home. “Always get a personal reference. Be hypervigilant now,” she told the Post.

So far, 350,000 people have registered for FEMA assistance, and the money has begun payout via electronic transfer. Around 9,000 evacuees have been relocated to hotels through FEMA as well.

Roy E. Wright, director of FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program, is urging people to document the damage to their homes with pictures, when it is safe to do so, and reminding them that the state law which went into effect Sept. 1 doesn’t apply to flood insurance policies under NIFP.

RELATED: Immigrant Labor sees spike with increased demand for home repair across the city

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