BBB Offers Tips to Avoid Scams During Wildfires

LOS ANGELES

With wildfires raging across southern California and no end in sight to the gusty Santa Ana winds, thousands of people have evacuated while others have seen their homes destroyed. Safety is the primary concern now, but in the days and weeks ahead residents will begin the arduous process of putting their lives back together and rebuilding.

Scam artists like to take advantage of these disasters and prey on the vulnerable, and Better Business Bureau of Los Angeles has some important advice to avoid becoming a victim.

One of the most common scams after a disaster is the door-to-door variety. The scam artist promises quick, low-cost repairs and either takes a payment without returning, does shoddy work or finds issues that dramatically raise the price. Beware of these other types of solicitations:

  • High pressure sales with big promises that seem too good to be true.
  • People who try to get a Social Security Number or other information, which can be used to steal your identity.
  • Sales people selling in a no-solicitation zone.
  • Suspicious use of a credit card, such as using carbon paper to reproduce an image of the card so the information can be used later.
  • Sales people who say they were just selling to others in the neighborhood and have products left over that they can sell cheap.
  • People selling products from the back of a truck. It’s one thing to make a purchase that is delivered by truck by a reputable company, but another entirely when there's no time to research the company and its products before the sale is made.
  • Sales people who request cash so there will be no paperwork. Always be sure to get an official receipt. That’s important if the consumer wants to ask for a refund later.

Find out which scams are taking place in your area or report a scam at BBB Scam Tracker.

For more than 100 years, Better Business Bureau has been helping people find businesses, brands and charities they can trust. In 2016, people turned to BBB more than 167 million times for BBB Business Profiles on more than 5.2 million businesses and Charity Reports on 11,000 charities, all available for free at bbb.org.

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About the Author: Carrie Brunner

Carrie Brunner grew up in a small town in northern New Brunswick. She studied chemistry in college, graduated, and married her husband one month later. They were then blessed with two baby boys within the first four years of marriage. Having babies gave their family a desire to return to the old paths – to nourish their family with traditional, homegrown foods; rid their home of toxic chemicals and petroleum products; and give their boys a chance to know a simple, sustainable way of life. They are currently building a homestead from scratch on two little acres in central Texas. There’s a lot to be done to become somewhat self-sufficient, but they are debt-free and get to spend their days living this simple, good life together with their five young children. Carrie writes mostly on provincial stories.
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