In the wake of Thomas Fire, the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office reminds residents that charity and home repair scams often follow disasters. The Sheriff’s Office warns people about urgent appeals for charitable donations, and cautions residents in stricken areas about fraudulent home repair offers. The scammers often play on the emotions of people especially during major incidents.
If you are asked to make a charitable donation to help people in disaster affected areas, consider these tips:
• Donate to charities you know and trust.
• Be alert for charities that seem to have sprung up overnight.
• Do not give out personal or financial information including your credit card or bank account number unless you know the charity is reputable.
• Never send cash by mail.
• Be suspicious of random calls requesting a donation.
• Be cautious about clicking on links in emails requesting a donation.
• Check out a charity before you donate by contacting the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance at 703-276-0100 or at website www.give.org
Remember, fraudsters also target disaster affected areas, hoping to cash in on insurance settlements. Home and business owners who need to hire a contractor should:
• Check the contractor’s identification and references.
• Verify the contractor’s license though the State Contractors Board at http://www.cslb.ca.gov/
• Ask for copies of the contractor’s general liability and worker’s compensation insurance.
• Avoid paying more than the minimum in advance.
• Deal with reputable people in your community.
• Call local law enforcement if you suspect a con.
For more information on giving to victims of the Thomas Fire you can contact the below charities:
Ventura County United Way – http://vcunitedway.org/ or by calling (805) 485-6288.
Salvation Army – http://www.salvationarmy.org/ or by calling 1-800-SAL-ARMY.
American Red Cross – http://www.redcross.org/ or by calling 1-800-RED-CROSS