SAN BERNARDINO, Calif.– In the wake of the Blue Cut Fire that has so far burned 37,020 acres and destroyed 105 homes, there is one more threat that San Bernardino County citizens affected by the fire have to consider: post-disaster fraud and scams.
After a disaster, contractors will often go door to door in affected neighborhoods offering clean up and construction services. While the vast majority of these service providers are legitimate, some dishonest individuals may attempt to scam innocent victims. Please take into consideration the following:
(You may also click here to download a brochure which includes the following information.)
For at least 30 days after an emergency is declared, businesses and individuals are not allowed to increase prices by more than 10% for rental houses, hotels and motels, food, drink, (including for animals), tools, construction materials, flashlights, blankets, batteries, soaps, diapers, prescription and nonprescription medicines and first-aid products. The rule applies for 180 days for emergency cleanup and reconstruction services. Save any estimates or receipts.
Public adjusters are people who want to represent you in dealing with your insurance company. Public Adjusters get a percentage of the money the insurer pays for your loss. Check carefully to see if they are what you need. Public adjusters need to be licensed and can be checked with the Department of Insurance.
These types of individuals represent themselves as professional intermediaries who claim for a fee they can arrange low-interest loans, expedite relief grants and insurance adjustments and claims. Unscrupulous vendors will often sell substandard materials to victims.
Con artists try to collect funds for non-existent charities. Only give to those you know are reliable. Beware of copy-cat or similar names to reputable charities. Ask for written information and proof that your contribution is tax-deductible.
Be cautious, some of these people are just trying to take your money. Do not be hurried or intimidated. If you choose to purchase from or use their services, get all the information and promises in writing.
There are two categories: Those working without a license and those who have licenses, but have accepted more work than can be capably met. They do not have the resources, work is often sub-standard or not completed.
Fake Disaster Officials
Always ask for identification and check it out before letting anyone into your home. Some of these rip-off artists will claim that you must pay a processing fee to secure relief.
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