Avoiding Scams & Fraud After a Fire Disaster
Avoiding Scams and Fraud After a Fire Disaster
Unfortunately, disasters often bring out con artists, scammers and those looking to make a quick buck by taking advantage of disaster survivors and others wishing to help. Criminals frequently target those who are perceived as vulnerable or in need of assistance. Scams that consumers should be aware of following fire disasters are home repair scams, price gouging and charitable donation scams.
Home Repair Scams
Homeowners should be cautious when hiring contractors for home repairs. Criminals, known as “fire chasers,” often head to an area hard-hit by a fire disaster. These criminals go door-to-door offering quick fixes to consumers who appear to be in urgent need of repairs or supplies.
Consumers should be wary of any contractor offering repairs for a low cost, but requiring a full payment upfront. Contractors attempting to scam will often collect as many upfront payments from as many individuals as possible, and leave town without fulfilling their services.
Other things that individuals should be suspicious of when hiring a contractor include:
- Contractors driving vehicles that are unmarked or that have out-of-state plates.
- Contractors without a physical address.
- Contractors that use a high-pressure sale technique.
- Contractors that refuse to show an identification card.
- Contractors who promise that no City permit is required.
Some tips to avoid a home repair scam are:
- Hire known and recommended repair companies.
- Get at least two estimates from different companies.
- Get all agreements in writing.
- Make a full payment only when the terms of the contract are met.
- Contact City Hall to verify whether permits are required or not.
Know what a contract should state when hiring a home remodeler.
Another type of scam common following a disaster is price gouging. Price gouging occurs when a business charges a price that is much higher than reasonable for products. Consumers should be aware of prices, and report any business that appears to be price gouging for necessary supplies like plywood, gas and generators.
Charitable Donation Scams
After a disaster, charities often form in order to help those affected. While the public is encouraged to donate to those charities, donors should be sure that the charity is a worthy one.
Those attempting to make a monetary donation should use caution and be aware that not all charities are what they appear. In response to a disaster, bogus charities are often created in an attempt to profit from the generosity of the public.
Some tips donors should consider before donating are:
- Do not give cash
- Make out a check or money order to the organization, not the individual collecting for the organization
- Be wary of excessive pressure for on-the-spot donations.
- Do not hesitate to ask for written information about the charity, and be wary of charities that describe a lot of emotions towards the victims and lack information concerning what they will do to help them.
- Do not respond to unsolicited (spam) email containing information about charities and donations.
- Research the organization and their purpose using the internet.
- Do not provide personal or financial information to anyone soliciting contributions.
Residents are encouraged to report any suspected scam or fraud to the Glendora Police Department at (626) 914-8250.