Small Business Flood Relief Resources and Action Steps

As businesses rebuild what was lost and purchase new items after the floods, we urge businesses to engage trusted contacts to help consider the next steps and to help make informed decisions. Businesses with concerns can reach out to the Attorney General’s Consumer Assistance Program (CAP) for help. Vermont businesses are covered by our state’s consumer protection law and CAP is a helpful resource available to businesses. CAP’s Small Business Advocate can assist businesses with any questions relating to consumer purchases and consumer complaint mediation.

Small business flood relief: Resources and action steps. Document everything, apply for relief, beware of scams.

First and foremost, businesses must document everything. Take pictures and write down all actions you are taking. This step will be integral in applying for relief and insurance claims down the road.

Making Repairs to your Business:

Below are a few tips to follow before making changes to your business as you repair and rebuild what was damaged in the flood.

  1. Contact your insurance company as soon as possible and do not make any permanent changes to your business until you get approval from your insurance company.
  2. Beware of dubious contractors that may appear with promises to restore damages immediately in exchange for immediate payment. Never pay in full upfront for a commercial project. Make sure you have a contract. Before working with a contractor, always check the Attorney General’s Home Improvement Fraud Registry and residential contractor registration status with the Office of Professional Regulation in the Vermont Secretary of State’s office.
  3. Contact the Consumer Assistance Program by phone at (800) 649-2424 or by email at for questions relating to hiring a commercial contractor.

Legal Assistance:

Small businesses may also need the advice or services of an attorney. Below are legal resources available to small businesses during this time.

  • Vermont Bar Association (VBA) offers low-cost consultations. A lawyer will provide a 30-minute consultation for $25 to help answer questions.  You can reach the Lawyer Referral Service at (800) 639-7036 Monday-Friday 8am – 4pm. Please visit for updates.
  • Small Business Legal Assistance Project offers support and outreach on legal topics impacting diverse and disadvantaged businesses and business owners in Vermont.

Beware of Disaster Relief Scams:

The Consumer Assistance Program is warning Vermonters and small businesses to beware of disaster-relief scams and price gouging. Scammers may impersonate FEMA or the State of Vermont. To learn more about these scams, please review CAP’s Avoid Scams and Fraud During Flood Recovery blog post.

How to Contact the Small Business Advocate:

If you have any questions on the above related material, please contact Emily McDonnell, Small Business Advocate at or call CAP at (800) 649-2424.

Many Vermonters are going through a traumatic period. If you or someone you know is having a hard time with the emotional impact of this crisis, you can call or text the National Disaster Stress Hotline, (800) 985-5990, or 9-8-8. You are not alone.

Avoid Scams and Fraud During Flood Recovery

Vermonters have become all too familiar with the difficulties of disaster flooding. We know from experience that as we seek to recover, time is of the essence. We may bypass research gathering steps to respond as quickly as possible to the most pressing needs. When encountering urgent, unexpected, or unfamiliar consumer transactions, like agreements for repair, or disaster recovery, avoid scams and fraud by slowing down and taking steps to verify. Engage trusted contacts to help consider the next steps and to help you make informed consumer decisions.

As we recover: Avoid Scams. Phony charities, government (FEMA) relief, dubious contractors.

You can further avoid scams and fraud by looking out for the following known disaster scams:

Government imposter relief scams may claim to be the Federal government or the State of Vermont or FEMA. FEMA scams manifest as fraudulent inspectors that request fees for service, or administrative personnel that call to “verify” your information but are phishing for your personal information. Such relief help scams may even claim they can speed up your FEMA relief application for a fee.

Avoid this scam:  Connect with FEMA directly online. Seek updates regarding whether emergency declarations have been made: and follow updates from the Vermont Emergency Management.

Phony charities that solicit funds claiming to support recovery efforts. The Vermont way is to help our neighbors. We all want to help, whether it is through volunteering or donating money. Sadly, scammers use the same contact methods as legitimate charities (phone, online, mail).

Avoid this scam:  Please only give to valid charities that you have thoroughly researched and vetted. Use tools like the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance and Charity Navigator to research charities before you donate.

Dubious contractors may appear with promises to restore damages immediately in exchange for immediate payment. Such contractors urge you to act fast, may offer lower prices, and do not have credentials—though they might say they are “registered and insured,” these are unverified statements.

Avoid this scam: Vermonters must be extra critical about hiring home improvement contractors. Never pay in full upfront for a home improvement project. Make sure you have a contract. Reference our Home Repair How-To Checklist for more tips on finding and hiring home improvement contractors.

Please watch out for these scams and report them to the Consumer Assistance Program by phone at 800-649-2424 or online at

More: Visit the Federal Trade Commission on spotting and avoiding post-disaster scams:

World Elder Abuse Awareness Day: Help in Your Community

By Crystal Baldwin

As we prepare for World Elder Abuse Awareness Day this Saturday, please read and share: “Finding Help,” a guidon help options for Vermonters experiencing elder abuse, exploitation and neglect. 

World Elder Abuse Awareness Day: Building Strong Support for Elders - National Center on Elder Abuse - My Community, your community - free of elder abuse
National Center on Elder Abuse – World Elder Abuse Awareness Day

When considering care for our loved ones, there is a lot to think about . Who should help manage their money? Should someone live with them, and who? Can we afford to hire an in-home caregiver? Should we seek out assisted living care, or think about an adult day option? Once everything is finally sorted out, we can exhale. But should we? As our parents checked in on our wellbeing as children, once our elders are set and settled, we must continue to check in on them, too, with great care and concern for their wellbeing. 

On this World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, we must be vigilant and aware of the risk factors and signs of elder abuse. We must serve as supportive connections to older adults in our communities to prevent their social isolation—one of the main elder abuse risk factors ( As someone who has cared for a vulnerable elder, I know firsthand that it can be difficult to know where to turn for help, advice, and guidance.   

Finding Help: Abuse, Exploitation & Neglect in Later Life - link to guide
Finding Help – A resource guide produced by the VT Attorney General’s Office and the Department of Disabilities, Aging and Independent Living

Last fall, the Vermont Attorney General’s Elder Protection Initiative and the Department of Disabilities, Aging and Independent Living launched the Finding Help: Abuse, Exploitation and Neglect in Later Life help guide, a resource for Vermont’s most vulnerable and those who care for them. The guide walks through how to recognize abuse and exploitation, help options outside of government, as well as how to report elder abuse or exploitation to government for response. This resource outlines free services provided by an array of organizations and state agencies, including: 

  • Elder abuse hotlines and helplines 
  • Case managers and social workers 
  • Domestic & sexual violence organizations 
  • Legal services; and 
  • Other community-based organizations and professionals 

You can help prevent elder abuse and exploitation. I encourage you to share and save a copy of this guide and keep it among your most referenced resources. Also, consider printing out the following abbreviated resource guide and share it with the elders in your life.  It includes some of the primary referral resource hotlines and can be kept handy close to the phone for easy reference.   

Resources for VTer's 60+
Vermont 2-1-1
VT Area Agencies on Aging 1-800-642-5119
VT Adult Protective Svcs 1-800-564-1612
VT Office of the Public Guardian 1-800-642-3100
UVMMC Case Mgmt and Social Work Team 1-802-847-3553
SASH 1-802-863-2224
Blueprint for Health - contact a Primary Care Physician. National Elder Fraud Hotline: 1-833-372-8311
Resources for Vermonters 60+. Print and share.

World Elder Abuse Awareness Day:

Social Media Scams Hope to Elicit Funds from Grieving Families

Scammers are targeting grieving families, posting links to fake funeral live streams on Facebook and asking for payment to access the service. Scammers may further make fake social media pages of loved ones to post the fake funeral livestream link.

The livestream option for funeral services is typically free to guests. If you are asked to provide payment, disengage and contact the organizer directly, such as the funeral home or the person who arranged the funeral services.

The array of scams that can occur on social media is virtually limitless. There are:

  • Opportunities to grow your wealth through investment schemes,
  • The chance to earn money through low-risk involvement, such being paid to have your portrait drawn,
  • Advertisements that lead to purchasing items and services that do not exist,
  • The development of false relationships

The scammers will stop at nothing.

Here are some things you can do to avoid fraud online:

  • Limit your social media connections to people you actually know and have met in person.
  • Know that accounts can be hacked so the “friend” contacting you could be a scammer.
  • Turn on restrictive privacy settings that allow only those close contacts access to your pages and posts.
  • Upon receiving an appealing offer take steps to verify and engage a trusted contact to scrutinize the offer.

If you have paid in response to one of these scams, contact your financial institution right away and alert about the fraud. Learn more recovery steps on our website: 

Please help stop scams by sharing this information with someone you know.

The Consumer Assistance Program (CAP) is your Vermont resource for consumer help and scam prevention information. Contact CAP at 1-800-649-2424 or

Vermont Origins Guidance for Businesses

Vermont law specifies which products may be labeled and marketed with terms such as “locally grown” and “made in Vermont.” This law is important to protect the integrity and name recognition of the Vermont brand. If your business is intending to use the Vermont name when labeling or branding products, be sure to check out this helpful guidance and review the following rules.

Consult the Vermont Origin Rule—FAQs (Revised 7/7/06)  for more guidance.

Refer to CP Rule 117 and CP Rule 120 before using the Vermont origin label.

If you have any questions about Vermont Origins, reach out to the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets with questions.