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A lot of sincere help is available to people and businesses affected by Hurricane Sandy.  Unfortunately, there are some who aren’t sincere, and are looking to take advantage of vulnerable people during a difficult time.

The following are representative of questionable advertisements making the rounds.

loan advertisement   loan advertisement
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Be aware of the following when evaluating a disaster "assistance" offer:

- Advertised "low" rates may not be so low. “Rates as low as 14.9%” pales in comparison to the 4% to 8% offered by SBA-backed disaster loans.

- Any legitimate lender will consider your credit.

- Reputable lenders will try to make the process easy. But offers that describe, "Two simple steps" or that require no collateral should be considered skeptically.

- Beware of form completion services that charge a fee to help complete disaster assistance forms.  Free assistance is available through an SBDC, FEMA or the Red Cross.

- Advance fee loans are illegal. No company should guarantee that you will receive a loan,and it is illegal to charge an up-front fee.

In general, if a claim or offer seems too good to be true, it probably isn’t.

The following resources provide additional advice on avoiding disaster-related scams:

Tips to Avoid Hurricane Sandy Scams - NYS Office of Emergency Management

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau - Avoiding loan scams after a natural disaster

FTC Warns Consumers: Charity and Home Repair Scams May Appear After a Disaster

The NYS Attorney General - Guide To Property Owners As They Recover And Rebuild From Hurricane Sandy

For information on contacting legitimate disaster recovery assistance providers, go to the NYS Governor’s website:

Find SBA Business Recovery Centers or SBDC disaster assistance locations near you