PHOENIX (Thursday, June 9, 2011) -- Attorney General Tom Horne issued a warning today that Arizonans need to be wary of consumer scams and other fraudulent schemes that may appear as criminal predators take advantage of the disastrous Wallow Fire.
“Disasters such as the Wallow Fire often bring out the very best in people who work cooperatively to help each other. Unfortunately, the opposite is also true as scam artists and frauds use the tragedy to exploit vulnerable victims or con generous people into giving to fraudulent charities,” Horne said.
“My office is releasing a guide to protecting yourself from fraudulent schemes,” he added. “It is important that all Arizonans, whether they are personally affected by the Wallow Fire or the other fires that are currently burning in the state get this information so they are not further victimized in an already tragic situation.”
Among the tips that fire victims need to consider are:
- If you have insurance, contact your insurance company first and file your claim. Your insurance company’s adjuster will provide an estimate.
- Whether you are insured or not, obtain at least two estimates on work in writing before choosing a contractor to repair your home or remove debris.
- Never enter into or sign a contract while reviewing it quickly.
- Don’t pay for services you have yet to receive. Make progress payments as the terms of your agreement are being met.
The consumer guide also cautions people about potentially fraudulent charities:
- To help victims of the Wallow Fire or other Arizona fire disasters, consider donating to nationally known and legitimate charities, like the Red Cross, rather than charities that you may not recognize.
- Don’t judge a charity by its name. False charities may use names that closely resemble legitimate charities.
- Don’t let callers play on your sympathy by identifying their organization with the fire. This can be a tactic to get your money.
- Don’t be pressured. Give only when you are comfortable with the charity.
- Avoid cash donations and make checks payable to the organization, not to an individual.
The above is a partial list; the full consumer guide is available at: