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After the Storm: Disaster Recovery Information

Download the PDF:  After the Storm:  Disaster Recovery InformationWhile no one can prevent natural disasters, we can work together to make sure laws designed to protect storm victims are enforced and that victims receive the assistance they need.

Even in an emergency situation, consumers need to be vigilant against the unscrupulous few who seek to take advantage of those who are dealing with a crisis situation. The following tips and information can help you as you recover:

Price Gouging

Following a disaster, businesses and individuals are prohibited from unreasonably raising the price of essential goods and services in direct response to the disaster – regardless of whether the disaster occurs in Tennessee or in another state. If you suspect a business is price gouging:

  • Obtain as much information as possible including estimates, invoices, receipts, or bills.
  • File a price gouging complaint with the Tennessee Division of Consumer Affairs. Penalties for price gouging can be up to $1,000 per violation.

Home Repairs

Frustrated and anxious homeowners eager to get their property back in shape may neglect to take the usual precautions when hiring someone to perform home repairs. Insurance settlements and flood relief are tempting targets for unscrupulous contractors. Take time to verify through the Tennessee Board of Licensing Contractors that contractors and other businesses are licensed and also check for complaints. Be wary of high pressure sales tactics and check references.

Moving and Storage

You may have to move your belongings into storage while repairs are made. Before choosing a facility, verify the firm has adequate security and offers insurance coverage. When selecting a moving company, ask for references and estimates. Read and understand any contract before you sign it or make payments. You can check the background of a moving company with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Also, federal regulations require a moving company to supply customers with a copy of "Your Rights and Responsibilities When You Move."

Charity Fraud

Following a natural disaster, there is often an outpouring of support for victims, and there are those who will attempt to take advantage. Be cautious of any charity that does not explain how your money will assist disaster victims, and avoid giving to someone who demands a donation immediately. You can find out if a charity is registered to solicit in Tennessee through the Tennessee Department of State.

Flood Damaged Vehicles

When a vehicle suffers flood damage, the insurance companies will normally declare the vehicle a totaled loss and buy it from their policyholder. In most states, including Tennessee included, the vehicle title is supposed to be marked with either a flood or salvage brand, or a combination of the both. There is no guarantee that vehicle flood damage will be reported but there are steps you can take to protect yourself. Before you buy, trace the car's title history and have a reputable mechanic inspect the vehicle for signs of water damage.

Additional Disaster Relief Information

  • Tennessee Attorney General's Office: The Attorney General's website contains detailed information about hiring contractors and other home repair businesses, filing insurance claims, and many other consumer issues.
  • Tennessee Division of Consumer Affairs: Contact Consumer Affairs to file a complaint against a company, an individual, or a business entity or to find out if other complaints have been filed. Price gouging complaints are also filed with Consumer Affairs.
  • Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance: Check the status of any licensed contractor or any other business licensed by Commerce and Insurance Regulatory Boards. The Division of Insurance regulates insurance companies and agents.
  • Tennessee Department of State: Charitable organizations that solicit in Tennessee are required to register with the Tennessee Department of State.
  • Tennessee Emergency Management Agency: TEMA is the agency that coordinates emergency management response and recovery.

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