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Wildfire victims beware of scams and fraudulent phone calls

State and federal recovery officials urge California residents to watch for and report any suspicious activity or potential fraud from scam artists, identity thieves and other criminals who may try to prey on vulnerable survivors of the October wildfires.

Posted: Dec 4, 2017 3:15 PM

State and federal recovery officials urge California residents to watch for and report any suspicious activity or potential fraud from scam artists, identity thieves and other criminals who may try to prey on vulnerable survivors of the October wildfires.

Common post-disaster fraud practices include:

• Fake offers of state or federal aid:

o Beware if anyone claiming to be from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) or the state visits, calls or emails asking for an applicant’s Social Security number, bank account number or other sensitive information.

o Avoid scam artists who promise a disaster grant and ask for cash deposits or advance payments in full.

o Know that federal workers do not solicit or accept money. FEMA and the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) staff never charge applicants for disaster assistance, inspections or help in filling out applications. Do not give out information and report people claiming to be government workers to local police.

o Provide your Social Security number and banking information only when registering for FEMA assistance, either by calling 800-621-3362, TTY 800-462-7585, or going online at www.DisasterAssistance.gov or the smart phone FEMA App. If you use 711-Relay or Video Relay Services, call 800-621-3362. Operators are multilingual and calls are answered from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week.

• Phony housing inspectors: Owners/applicants may be especially vulnerable to phony housing inspectors claiming to represent FEMA or SBA. An applicant should always:

o Ask to see the inspector’s identification badge. All federal employees and contractors carry official, laminated photo identification.

o Inspectors also have each applicant’s nine-digit registration number.

o FEMA inspectors never require banking information.

It is important to note that FEMA housing inspectors verify damage, but do not hire or endorse specific contractors to fix homes or recommend repairs. They do not determine your eligibility for assistance.

• Fraudulent building contractors: When hiring a contractor, be sure to:

o Use licensed local contractors backed by reliable references.

o Demand that contractors carry general liability insurance and worker’s compensation.

• Bogus pleas for post-disaster donations: Unscrupulous solicitors may play on the sympathy for disaster survivors. Disaster aid solicitations may arrive by phone, email, letter or face-to-face visits. Verify legitimate solicitation:

o Ask for the charity’s exact name, street address, phone number, and Web address, then call the charity directly and confirm that the person asking for funds is an employee or volunteer.

o Don’t pay with cash.

o Request a receipt with the charity’s name, street address, phone number and Web address (if applicable).

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 779491

Reported Deaths: 14893
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Los Angeles2585166330
Riverside566811153
San Bernardino51750858
Orange516461123
San Diego44007757
Kern31148340
Fresno27487355
Sacramento21171375
Alameda20364370
Santa Clara20129295
San Joaquin19793414
Stanislaus16229329
Contra Costa15640198
Tulare15517256
Ventura12167142
Imperial11534312
San Francisco1064096
Monterey933765
San Mateo9332142
Santa Barbara8803109
Merced8719133
Kings715877
Sonoma6987114
Marin6522112
Solano608555
Madera429658
Placer340741
San Luis Obispo333227
Yolo273253
Butte272033
Santa Cruz21758
Sutter163110
Napa159213
San Benito127211
Yuba11127
El Dorado10584
Mendocino82218
Lassen7310
Shasta66814
Glenn5483
Nevada5035
Colusa5026
Tehama4874
Humboldt4826
Lake43310
Calaveras30513
Amador28616
Tuolumne2204
Inyo18714
Mono1632
Siskiyou1600
Del Norte1351
Mariposa752
Plumas490
Modoc230
Trinity150
Sierra60
Alpine20
Unassigned00
Chico
Clear
84° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 58°
Feels Like: 84°
Oroville
Clear
82° wxIcon
Hi: 86° Lo: 59°
Feels Like: 82°
Paradise
Clear
84° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 59°
Feels Like: 84°
Chester
Clear
69° wxIcon
Hi: 74° Lo: 46°
Feels Like: 69°
Red Bluff
Clear
86° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 62°
Feels Like: 86°
Willows
Clear
84° wxIcon
Hi: 89° Lo: 58°
Feels Like: 84°
A disturbance moved over northern California and the rest of the Pacific Northwest this afternoon. It brought more gusty wind like yesterday, and cooler air, but only isolated rain showers. It will be much quieter this weekend with a late summer warmup.
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