Better Business Bureau Helps Residents Avoid Fire Scams with ScamTracker

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With the most devastating wildfires in history raging across southern California, Better Business Bureau of Los Angeles has important advice for residents who need assistance and those who want to help fire victims.

People are at their most vulnerable and this is a time when scam artists up their game. Make sure you’re dealing with trustworthy businesses and your donations are going to reputable charities.

With the most devastating wildfires in history raging across southern California, Better Business Bureau of Los Angeles has important advice for residents who need assistance and those who want to help fire victims.

“People are at their most vulnerable and this is a time when scam artists up their game,” says Steve McFarland, President & CEO of Better Business Bureau of Los Angeles & Silicon Valley. “Not only is it important to make sure you’re dealing with trustworthy businesses but that your donation is going to a reputable charity.”

McFarland advises southern California residents to visit BBB’s ScamTracker to see which scams are prevalent in their neighborhood or community. ScamTracker is a real-time, crowd-sourced interactive database of scam reports filed by the public. Each report shows the type of scam, a description of the scam and the amount of money lost.

“Right now ScamTracker shows over 90,000 reports including nearly 5,000 in southern California and we expect that number to grow as fraudsters take advantage of the fires for their own personal gain,” says McFarland. “You can see scam activity across the region or drill down to your zip code.”

As residents begin putting their lives back together and rebuilding, BBB urges them to watch out for phony contractors. First, check out the business at bbb.org, get several quotes, get everything in writing and verify the contractor is licensed with the Contractors State License Board.

Before giving to fire relief efforts, go to give.org to research charities and relief organizations and verify that they are accredited by the BBB and meet the 20 Standards for charity Accountability.

BBB has tips on avoiding almost every type of scam – from identity theft to debt collection to employment scams. Also check out this glossary of scams with helpful definitions.

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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