If you were hit by Ida, here’s how to avoid scams, injuries, price-gouging

Here are some tips to avoid scams and stay safe in the days and weeks ahead.

Hurricane Ida tore a path of destruction from the Gulf Coast all the way to New York and New Jersey. The billions of dollars in damage from flooding, wind and tornadoes mean claims, repairs and rebuilding for way too many people. Here are some tips to avoid scams and stay safe in the days and weeks ahead.

  • Be on guard for price gouging: Louisiana, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and 32 other states have anti-price gouging laws that protect consumers from prices that are inflated after an emergency. If a business is hiking prices for gas, water, building supplies, food, ice or other needs, people should report it to their state attorney general’s office immediately. A list of contacts for state attorneys general is below.

  • Use generators with caution: If your electricity is out and you’re relying on a generator in your home or someone else’s, make sure the generator is outdoors and isn’t in any kind of enclosed structure. Authorities along the Gulf Coast are reporting dozens of people hospitalized in separate incidents after being poisoned by carbon monoxide, because generators weren’t properly ventilated.
    At least a few victims have died.
    Also, make sure generators are properly grounded and kept dry and disconnect the power going into your home or building. See more generator tips here.

  • Watch out for fraud and scams: After past disasters, con artists have posed as federal employees, insurance agents and housing inspectors to steal information and money. Scam robocalls have promised victims money for simple information. Ask for appropriate identification from anyone who stops by. 

  • Don’t give out personal information such as Social Security numbers, bank account information, policy numbers or anything else to someone you didn’t contact independently. 

  • Remember: FEMA doesn’t charge anyone to submit an application. 

  • File claims quickly: Report your claim as soon as possible because insurance companies generally process claims first come, first served, according to the Consumer Federation of America. Also, insurers should not raise your rate for filing a hurricane claim or fail to renew your policy for filing one, CFA said. Make detailed lists of losses, including living expenses and debris removal, and keep all receipts.

  • Get estimates: If possible, get multiple estimates from contractors to help you file a claim that will be accurate when it’s time to pay the bill. 
  • Avoid large deposits: Don’t give anyone a large deposit or down payment before they provide their goods or services. Make any deposits by credit card if possible because you have additional protections by law. Never pay in cash or with a wire transfer or gift card.

  • Vet contractors: Homeowners should use only licensed contractors with verifiable references to work on their property. When interviewing contractors, homeowners should ask for proof of their insurance and bonding, and about their past experience repairing damage from flooding or other disasters and their mold remediation practices. Each state has a Board of Contractors that offers a full list of licensed contractors. Homeowners can also get advice from FEMA.

  • Make sure your food is safe: Hurricanes and tropical storms carry a lot of dangerous bacteria that can contaminate food or food preparation materials. The basic rule is if food has touched any flood waters, even if it’s still in the packaging, it should be thrown out. Discard any containers with visible damage. Some undamaged food may be salvageable, if it didn’t require refrigeration. Use bottled water until local authorities have confirmed the local water supply is safe. And completely disinfect all food preparation surfaces, utensils, baby bottles, cutting boards, etc

  • Watch out for identity theft: Identity theft can compound your problems after a hurricane. Storm victims are particularly vulnerable. U.S. law allows anyone to freeze their credit files at no cost. People can find out more here about how to protect themselves from identity theft. 

  • Avoid scammers posing as charities: Con-artists will try to take advantage of someone else’s misfortune and people’s big hearts by soliciting donations that won’t really go to help disaster victims after all. Check out this guide from the Federal Trade Commission on donating wisely and avoiding ripoffs.

How can I report price gouging?

You should report price gouging to the company and your attorney general. Contact information for each state’s Attorney General is listed below.


Online Report Form: https://www.alabamaag.gov/consumercomplaint

Phone Number: 334-242-7335 


Online Report Form: http://www.law.state.ak.us/department/civil/consumer/cp_complaint.html

Phone Number: 907-269-5200

E-mail: [email protected] 


Online Report Form: https://consumer-complaint.azag.gov/publiccomplaint/begin.aspx

Phone Number: (602) 542-5763

E-mail: [email protected] 


Online Report Form: https://arkansasag.gov/covid19/report/

Phone Number: (501) 682-2007

E-mail: [email protected]


Online Report Form: https://oag.ca.gov/contact/consumer-complaint-against-business-or-company


Online Report Form: https://coag.gov/file-complaint/report-consumer-fraud/

Phone Number: 720-508-6000


Online Report Form: https://www.dir.ct.gov/ag/complaint/

Phone Number: 860-808-5420

E-mail: [email protected]


Online Report Form: https://attorneygeneral.delaware.gov/fraud/cpu/complaint/

Phone Number: (302) 577-8600

E-mail: [email protected] 


Online Report Form: http://www.myfloridalegal.com/Contact.nsf/PriceGouging!OpenForm

Phone Number: (866) 9NO-SCAM  


Online Report Form: http://ocp.ga.gov/form/consumer-complaint/step1

Phone Number: (404) 651-8600


Report Form: https://cca.hawaii.gov/ocp/files/2018/02/Complaint-Form-and-Instruction-2018-WEB.pdf

Phone Number: (808) 586-2630

E-mail: [email protected] 


Online Report Form: https://www.ag.idaho.gov/office-resources/online-forms/?form=File%20a%20Complaint&complaint=Consumer%20Complaint

Phone Number: 208-334-2400


Online Report Form: https://ccformsubmission.ilattorneygeneral.net/

Phone Number: 1-800-386-5438 (Chicago)

1-800-243-0618 (Springfield)

1-800-243-0607 (Carbondale)

Línea Gratuita en Español: 1-866-310-8398


Online Report Form: https://indianaattorneygeneral.secure.force.com/ConsumerComplaintForm

Phone Number: 317.232.6330


Online Report Form: https://www.iowaattorneygeneral.gov/for-consumers/file-a-consumer-complaint/complaint-form

Phone Number: 515-281-5926

E-mail: [email protected]


Online Report Form: https://ag.ks.gov/complaint-center/consumer

Phone Number: (785) 296-3751 


Online Report Form: https://secure.kentucky.gov/formservices/AttorneyGeneral/PriceGougingComplaintForm

Phone Number: 1-888-432-9257


Online Report Form: http://www.ag.state.la.us/Form/Consumer/Dispute

Phone Number: 225-326-6465 


Online Report Form: https://www.maine.gov/ag/consumer/complaints/complaint_form.shtml

Phone Number: (207) 626-8849

E-mail: [email protected]


Online Report Form: https://web.oag.state.md.us/editor/customer/onlineformhelpers/formviewer.aspx?filename=MUGeneral.htm

Phone Number: 410-528-8662

E-mail: [email protected]


Online Report Form: https://www.mass.gov/how-to/file-a-consumer-complaint

Phone Number: (617) 727-8400

E-mail: [email protected]


Online Report Form: https://secure.ag.state.mi.us/complaints/consumer.aspx

Phone Number: 517-335-7622

E-mail: [email protected] 


Online Report Form: https://www.ag.state.mn.us/Office/Forms/ConsumerAssistanceRequest.asp

Phone Number: (651) 296-3353


Phone Number: 601-359-3680


Online Report Form: http://ago.mo.gov/app/consumercomplaint

Phone Number: 800-392-8222

E-mail: [email protected]


Online Report Form: https://app.doj.mt.gov/apps/oscar/complaintstart.aspx

Phone Number: 406-444-4500

E-mail: [email protected]


Online Report Form: https://protectthegoodlife.nebraska.gov/file-consumer-complaint

Phone Number: (800) 727-6432

E-mail: [email protected]


Online Report Form: http://ag.nv.gov/Complaints/File_Complaint/

Phone Number: (775) 684-1100

New Hampshire 

Online Report Form (requires registration): https://www.doj.nh.gov/consumer/complaints/index.htm

Phone Number: 603-271-3641

E-mail: [email protected] 

New Jersey

Online Report Form: https://njconsumeraffairs.state.nj.us/file-a-complaint/

Phone Number: 973.504.6200

E-mail: [email protected] 

New Mexico

Online Report Form: https://secure.nmag.gov/ecs

Phone Number: (505) 490-4060: 

New York

Online Report Form: https://ag.ny.gov/price-gouging-complaint-form

Phone Number: 1-800-771-7755 

North Carolina

Online Report Form: https://ncdoj.gov/file-a-complaint/consumer-complaint/

Phone Number: (877)-5NO-SCAM

North Dakota

Online Report Form: https://attorneygeneral.nd.gov/consumer-resources/consumer-complaints/general-complaint

Phone Number: 1-800-472-2600

E-mail: [email protected] 


Online Report Form: https://www.ohioattorneygeneral.gov/Individuals-and-Families/Consumers/File-A-Complaint.aspx

Phone Number: 800-282-0515


Phone Number: (405) 521-2029

E-mail: [email protected]


Online Report Form: https://justice.oregon.gov/consumercomplaints/OnlineComplaints/OnlineComplaintForm/en

Phone Number: 503-378-8442 


Online Report Form: https://www.attorneygeneral.gov/submit-a-complaint/

Phone Number: 717-787-3391

Rhode Island

Online Report Form: https://riag.wufoo.com/forms/q1851amb1bdd4d5/

Phone Number: (401) 274-4400

E-mail: [email protected]

South Carolina

Online Report Form (requires registration): https://applications.sc.gov/DCAComplaintSystem/Login/ConsumerLogin.aspx

Phone Number: 803-737-3953

E-mail: [email protected]

South Dakota

Online Report Form: https://atg.sd.gov/complaintform.aspx

Phone Number: (605) 773-4400

E-mail: [email protected]


Online Report Form (requires registration): https://www.tn.gov/attorneygeneral/working-for-tennessee/consumer/file-a-complaint.html

Phone Number: (615) 741-4737


Online Report Form: http://txoag.force.com/CPDOnlineForm

Phone Number: (800) 621-0508


Online Report Form: https://attorneygeneral.utah.gov/contact/complaint-form/

Phone Number: 1-801-366-0260

E-mail: [email protected]


Online Report Form: https://agocapcomplaint.atg.state.vt.us/forms/consumer-assistance-program-complaint-form/

Phone Number: (802) 656-3183

E-mail: [email protected]


Report Form: https://www.oag.state.va.us/consumer-protection/files/PriceGougingComplaintFormOAG.pdf

Phone Number: (804) 786-2042


Online Report Form: https://fortress.wa.gov/atg/formhandler/ago/ComplaintForm.aspx

Phone Number: 1-206-464-6684

West Virginia 

Online Report Form: https://ago.wv.gov/Pages/consumercomplaint.aspx

Phone Number: 304-558-8986

E-mail: [email protected]


Online Report Form: https://datcp.wi.gov/Pages/Programs_Services/FileConsumerComplaint.aspx

Phone Number: (800) 422-7128 

E-mail: [email protected]


Online Report Form: http://ag.wyo.gov/cpu/consumer-complaints

Phone Number: 307-777-6397

E-mail: [email protected]



Teresa Murray

Consumer Watchdog, U.S. PIRG Education Fund

Teresa directs the Consumer Watchdog office, which looks out for consumers’ health, safety and financial security. Previously, she worked as a journalist covering consumer issues and personal finance for two decades for Ohio’s largest daily newspaper. She received dozens of state and national journalism awards, including Best Columnist in Ohio, a National Headliner Award for coverage of the 2008-09 financial crisis, and a journalism public service award for exposing improper billing practices by Verizon that affected 15 million customers nationwide. Teresa and her husband live in Greater Cleveland and have two sons. She enjoys biking, house projects and music, and serves on her church missions team and stewardship board.