Natural Disasters & Solicitors
|Table of Contents|
|Natural Disasters by Region|
|Solicitors to Beware Of|
Protecting yourself and your finances following a natural disaster is an integral step in recovering. However, there are those individuals that seek to take advantage of victims of catastrophes in order to make a quick buck. Keeping an eye out for and understanding how solicitors, both legitimate and fraudulent, operate in the wake of a severe storm, fire, earthquake, flood, or other disaster can help you maintain peace of mind while you rebuild.
Before getting into what to beware of considering solicitors, what are the kinds of natural disasters in the United States?
Natural Disasters by Region
The United States has many different climates and regions. As such, there are just as many types of natural disasters that can happen.
Having a base knowledge of what disasters impact your region and what region your state is a part of will help in identifying and preparing for how solicitors may approach you. It is important to note that some disasters, such as heavy flooding and tornadoes, are possible with varying levels of frequency throughout the United States. The following list outlines specific catastrophes that solicitors may take advantage of per region.
States: Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Utah, Colorado, Alaska, and Hawaii¹
The West Region of the United States covers a lot of ground with many different environments. This means a wide variety of natural disasters are possible and occur within this region. California, southern Alaska, and southwestern Montana are prone to earthquakes; Hawaii, Washington, and Alaska have volcanoes, not to mention the supervolcano under Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming; eastern Colorado is caught in Tornado Alley, a section of the central United States where tornadoes frequently form;² fires tear through many of these states due to the dry climate; and intense cold and blizzards may occur in the more northern states.³
With such a variety of climates, many contracting businesses may seek to take advantage of many different disasters. Plumbing companies looking to repair broken and frozen pipes during a harsh winter; roofing and siding businesses seeking to take advantage of the strong winds from tornadoes and severe storms; and construction companies mobilizing after destructive earthquakes and fires are just a few of the kinds of solicitors to beware of.
States: Arizona, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas¹
The states that comprise the Southwest Region typically suffer from weather-related emergencies. Due to the more hot and dry climate, these states are prone to massive dust storms. Oklahoma and Texas are part of Tornado Alley with the latter having an average of over 150 tornadoes per year according to a 1991-2010 study.4 While uncommon, earthquakes are known to happen within the Southwest Region. Parts of Arizona and New Mexico are prone to the formation of sinkholes due to the underlying karst topography, areas of land where bedrock has been weathered by water.5
Due to the frequency of tornadoes, many roofing, siding, and general contractors may flock to disaster sites. Insurance agents and scammers may also seek to take advantage of a catastrophe. Given the unique geological nature of the southwest, individuals offering sinkhole insurance could gather.
States: North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, Indiana, and Ohio¹
The Midwest Region suffers from a number of disasters attributed to weather but there are instances of geological concerns as well. Most of Tornado Alley is found within the Midwest as it spans from South Dakota and stretches south down as far as Texas.³ However, much of the Midwest suffers from tornadoes and severe thunderstorms. The northern states are often bombarded with severe winter storms and blizzards. Despite not having many mountainous areas, the New Madrid and Wabash seismic zones along the southern edge of Missouri and Illinois can cause earthquakes, and similarly to Arizona and New Mexico, much of the Midwest is prone to sinkholes due to the formation of carbonic acid that eats away at underlying bedrock.6 Due to the relatively flat topography, the Midwest is especially prone to severe flooding.
Much like the southwest and with more frequency, the destruction that results from tornadoes draws roofing and other contractors and insurance agents offering coverage may flock to the midwest. With severe winter storms, window companies, roofing contractors, and plumbing businesses may take advantage of harsh blizzards and prolonged snowfall. Insurance agencies and construction companies will also take opportunity in the wake of sinkholes and earthquakes.
States: Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Maine¹
Comparatively speaking, the Northeast Region of the United States suffers from few natural disasters. The most severe occur during harsh winters with heavy snowfall, blizzards, and freezing winter storms that can cause property damage and presents hazards to travel and health. Heavy rainfall is a possibility as hurricanes move up along the east coast.
Like the midwest, contractors and other solicitors will see heavy snowfall as an opportunity to sell their services and policies.
States: Arkansas, Louisiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, District of Columbia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida¹
Comprising most of the continental United States’ east coast, the Southeast region has had some of the most costly natural disasters in the nation’s history. The most well-known and destructive catastrophes for this region are the hurricanes that impact many of the coastal states, and the remaining rainfall can extend further north and inland. However, with the New Madrid, Wabash, and other seismic zones along the northern edge of the region and South Carolina area, earthquakes are not uncommon.7 Additionally, while the main stretch of Tornado Alley resides within the Midwest, it does partially stretch into Louisiana, Arkansas, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Kentucky², and many of the other states within the Southeast are prone to tornadoes such as Florida which has an estimated 66 tornadoes on average per year.4
Many different types of contracting businesses will take advantage of hurricanes and quote the destruction they cause. Tree removal services, siding contractors, roofing companies, and many other types of construction businesses will offer their services before, during, and after a hurricane.
Now with a basic understanding of what natural disasters can occur in your region, what solicitors should you be aware of?
Solicitors To Look For
Opportunity seeking and unscrupulous solicitors may become a problem following any disaster. As many people will begin rebuilding, searching for loved ones, or simply recovering, these individuals see a chance to take advantage of victims and their families. With the many different types of catastrophes and emergencies that occur within the United States, so too is there a variety of solicitors for every situation.
Most solicitors will belong to insurance companies or contracting businesses offering services for victims to recover. They may go door-to-door following a disaster or may send out physical mail detailing the services with provide. However, there is potential that these individuals are making false claims and are attempting to take advantage of victims. Be wary of anyone asking for money up-front or for simply approaching your property.
Among the solicitors to watch out for following a natural disaster include contractors. Construction, roofing, siding, and other companies, or individuals claiming to be from one, may send salespeople to an area recently hit by severe weather such as a hurricane or tornado or by a particularly strong earthquake in an attempt to solicit business.
Fraudulent contractors use a variety of tactics to mislead their victims, but there are ways to identify them. Examples include asking for a large portion of the payment up-front and claiming to not need a building permit.8
Other solicitors include insurance company agents and representatives. Following a natural disaster, both legitimate and fraudulent individuals representing insurance companies may attempt to coerce victims to purchase their company’s policies.
A recent tactic scammers have turned to is claiming to represent a specific agency, apply for a policy in your name with your permission, cancelling the policy, and keeping the money you paid them. These fraudulent agents, or “Ghost Brokers,” offer inexpensive prices in order to entice people. Some ways to identify these individuals include if they ask for cash-only payments in person, though payment apps are sometimes used, if they contact you through social media only, and if they claim to establish a policy without putting you in contact with the company directly.9
Even if their services are legitimate, door-to-door solicitors need the proper paperwork in order to legally approach your home or business.
The town of Sandwich, Illinois was hit by a severe storm earlier this year. In the aftermath, roofing solicitors from out of town began approaching residents while their local contractors waited on background checks in order to receive a permit allowing them to go door-to-door.
Many places across the United States, such as Dallas, TX and Sandy Springs, GA among others, require businesses who use door-to-door marketing to apply for soliciting permits from their local government. The requirements for these permits vary but they are generally meant to prevent fraudulent individuals from offering nonexistent or low-quality goods and services. Some of these permits only grant businesses an allotted amount of time, such as those found in Sandwich, from the above example. Some cities and areas within the United States require solicitors to carry their permits on their person and to present it if asked, such as in Plano, TX.
Solicitation permits are a way to protect both consumers and legitimate businesses. While the processes may differ from state to state and city to city, most solicitors need to follow the same basic ideas and regulations such as heeding no soliciting signs.
Being aware of your local laws concerning solicitation permits following a natural disaster can help you protect your finances while you, your family, or your business recover.
Recovering from a natural disaster can be a long, arduous task and remaining mindful of solicitors and how to protect your stability is an important part of this process. Help ease the burden with CustomSigns.com and our line of property signs including no soliciting and no trespassing designs and templates.
- National Geographic
- ePact Network
- National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
- Teacher Friendly Guide: Ch. 9
- Teacher Friendly Guide: Ch. 10
- Virginia Tech Seismological Observatory