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Horne warns about fraud and scams involving wildfires

Attorney General Tom Horne has issued a warning Thursday advising people to be wary of consumer scams and other fraudulent schemes involving the Wallow wildfires.

“There are no specific claims to our knowledge,” said Horne’s spokesman Doug Nick in an interview today. 

A few local news agencies have reported some scams, but the attorney generals office has not yet received any claims, he said.

“My office is releasing a guide to protecting yourself from fraudulent schemes,” state Attorney General Tom Horne wrote in a press release. 

“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.”

A few guidelines that have been issued 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.

A warning was also issued against fraudulent charities and donations:

  • To protect yourself only donate to charities that are well known, or that you recognize like the Red Cross, the press release reported.
  • Don’t judge charities by their name. Some may use names closely related to the fires to play on you sympathy.
  • Also avoid cash donations, and make checks payable to the organization and not the individual.

“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 wrote.

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The complete Arizona wildfire consumer protection warning can be found on the attorney general's website.

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