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Attorney General Stein’s July Column: Be Prepared this Hurricane Season

July 2023

North Carolina’s summer storms and scorching temperatures over the past few weeks are a reminder that we are in the swing of the hurricane season. Hurricane season lasts until November, and sadly, we’ve already seen tornadoes hit and damage Nash County. These disasters don’t just bring stormy skies – they bring scammers, too. It’s critical that you prepare to stay safe from severe weather and to protect yourself from scammers looking to exploit your crisis. Follow these tips and stay up to date on guidance from your local and state officials to ensure you’re staying safe this summer.

Always plan ahead. Create an emergency plan with your family so you’re not caught off guard when a hurricane hits. Be familiar with your town’s emergency guidelines and know how you’ll evacuate and where the shelters are located.  Think carefully about how you’ll care for anyone in your family who needs extra attention, like elderly or disabled family members, small children, and pets.

Keep essential documents and supplies handy. If you know severe weather is approaching, be sure to have everything you need packed and ready to go. If you need to evacuate, you don’t want to waste time searching your home for the things you need. Always have a disaster kit prepared and be sure all household members know where to find it. Include clothing, battery-operated flashlights, and enough food and water for each family member for several days. Make sure you pack important documents like driver’s licenses, Social Security cards, insurance cards, bank documents, passports, and bills. Keep a list of emergency phone numbers – including for our Consumer Protection Division, 1-877-5-NO-SCAM, so you can report scammers if needed.

Watch for price gouging and scams. Scammers and storm chasers exploit the danger and destruction that a hurricane brings. Don’t give out personal information to unknown callers, even if they claim to represent government agencies. And if you want to help others by giving to charity, give to organizations you know. Scammers often create fake organizations with compelling names and websites.

If the governor declares a state of emergency, North Carolina’s price gouging law goes into effect. That means it is illegal for businesses or contractors to unfairly raise their prices, and our office enforces that law. So, it’s critical that you report any suspected incidences of price gouging to us at www.ncdoj.gov/gouging.

Research contractors and businesses you may hire. When the storm passes, your home may have damage that requires a contractor to help with repairs. But don’t hire just anyone. Look up online reviews, check the Better Business Bureau website, or call my office to see if the company is reputable. Always shop around for written estimates and read any contract carefully before signing. Make sure you are satisfied with the work before paying the full bill.

To learn more about how you can be prepared this hurricane season, visit readync.gov. If each of us does our part to prepare, we will all be able to recover more quickly when disaster strikes.

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