South Florida residents warned to avoid scammers in Irma aftermath

MIAMI (WSVN) - The Miami-Dade State Attorney is warning residents to be on alert as rumors and scams swirl in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma.

“To those of you who think you’re going to go out and take advantage of people who are desperate, sad, who feel displaced, who feel completely victimized, isolated — how dare you? You must know that we are out there,” said Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle.

Rundle has warned residents to play it smart and to be on the lookout for scams such as phony tree service companies and contractors who demand money up front.

Residents are advised to only pay once the job is done and to always ask for proof of insurance and licenses.

Florida Power and Light also took to Twitter to dispel a rumor that has been spreading over social media.

The company said a notice claiming FPL would reimburse South Floridians for their spoiled food is actually fake.

In a post to Twittter, FPL said they “are not responsible for spoiled food from an act of nature such as hurricanes.”

FPL has also issued a warning of its own about thieves posing as utility workers.

The company warns customers to always check for employee badges and company trucks with logos. Also, FPL workers will never ask to enter a home.

“If you’ve been impacted, continue to try to find online access to DisasterAssistance.gov, and then you can also call 1-800-621-FEMA if you have access to a landline,” said Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Brock Long.

FEMA is also available for help, but some rumors have spread about what they help with.

Another fake post circulating on social media said that FEMA is currently offering emergency food stamps.

Similar messages have been spread via email, phone and text message asking for personal financial information.

FEMA does not handle emergency food stamp benefits. However, the US Department of Agriculture does, but the program hasn’t been activated yet in South Florida.

The Attorney General’s office also said no state or federal disaster agency will ever contact residents for financial information.

You can report any disaster scam by calling 1-866-9-NO-SCAM.

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