wake of the largest environmental disaster in U.S. history, a coordinated
effort is underway to clean up the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and provide
aid to affected businesses and families. Better Business Bureau serving Eastern North Carolina alerts consumers that the massive recovery
effort creates multiple opportunities for scammers to easily deceive those trying
to provide assistance.
following any national disaster, scammers will find a way to prey on the misfortune
of others,” said Beverly Baskin, President & CEO of BBB serving Eastern North Carolina.
“Whether they are looking to provide work or financial assistance to
relief efforts, potential donors should do their research to make sure they
know who will benefit from their time and donations.”
consumers to beware of three scams related to jobs, claims and donations
arising from the BP oil spill:
The Job Scam: Several organizations including BP
and BBB have reported on job scams in the wake of the oil spill. Most commonly,
job hunters say they were told to pay an
upfront fee to get a job or pay for training. BBB has also heard from people
who were recruited
for cleanup work by outfits that did not seem to have a contract with BP or
their respective states.
directly with BP are posted
on BP’s website. For jobs through the state, such as Florida,
Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi, you
can visit the states’ job websites. If you have been recruited by a company
that claims to have a contract with BP, research the business fully and try to confirm
with BP that they are a legitimate employer for the oil spill clean up. BBB
advises job hunters to be wary of companies that require applicants to pay an
majority of jobs created will go to Gulf residents or industry specialists.
Many of the jobs involved in the cleanup also require specific training or
certifications, such as Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response
training. For most cleanup jobs, the employer will provide appropriate training
for new employees.
The Claim Scam: Unsolicited e-mails claiming that the
recipients qualify for compensation from BP are landing in inboxes. Additionally, the FTC warns
against phony adjusters who ask for fees to expedite services.
accepting claims from individuals and businesses for property damage, loss of income
and bodily injury or illness. At this point it is unclear whether or not BP is
accepting claims from vacationers who are seeking reimbursement for cancelled
trips to the Gulf. The toll-free BP claims line is 1-800-440-0858. The line is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a
week, or you can file
a claim online through BP’s website. Additionally, there are many
claims offices along the Gulf
Coast. More information
is available through the Deepwater
Horizon Response website and on
The Charity Scam: Following any major disaster,
scammers will pose as charitable organizations and try to solicit donations
from well-meaning individuals.
spill is unlike previous disasters. Constraints in the clean up effort limit
what charities can do with your money or how you can volunteer. While you can’t
donate or volunteer to clean up oil, opportunities may include shoreline
monitoring, fund raising, office work help in food programs for families in
need and providing transportation. Numerous charities with volunteer programs
ask that you register with them so that they can assess your skills and place
you appropriately when openings arise.
Giving Alliance has compiled a
list of nationally soliciting charities which meet BBB standards that are
asking for donations and volunteers for the Gulf effort.
How to Contact BP:
set up phone numbers to address specific concerns surrounding the Oil Spill.
You can find a contact
list on their website.
Where to Report Fraud
set up a fraud hotline at 1-877-359-6281. Additionally, you
can alert the FBI by calling (866) 720-5721 or via e-mail email@example.com.
For more information
to help you make an informed purchasing decision or donation, visit http://easternnc.bbb.org/Consumer-Tips/.