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San Joaquin County
District Attorney's Office
Consumer ALERT

November 16, 2018

Picking up the pieces after a wildfire

Wildfire-Photo Credit:FTC

Experiencing a destructive wildfire can be devastating and have long-term effects, but taking stock and developing a recovery plan can give you a sense of hope and purpose. Here are a few tips and links to resources to help make the task less burdensome.

  • Contact your insurance company. Ask what the next steps are in  assessing damage to your home or business.
  • Be skeptical of people promising immediate  clean-up and debris removal. Some may demand payment up-front for work they never do, quote outrageous prices, or simply lack the skills, licenses, and insurance to do the work legally.
  • If you’re looking for a place to rent during recovery, be cautious of rental listing scams. Scammers often advertise rentals that don’t exist to trick people into sending money before they find out the truth.
  • Many people will be asking for your personal information. Make sure you know who you are dealing with. Ask for identification before you share your Social Security or account numbers.
  • You might have had to leave your home without IDs, checks, credit and debit cards, and other documents. You also might be without access to a bank account or paycheck for some time. If you need to get money, understand your options for paying bills and replacing important documents. This list of contacts may help you regain your financial footing.
  • Call your creditors and ask for help. If you’re a homeowner, even if your home is uninhabitable, you still have a mortgage. Contact your lender to discuss your options.
  • You may want to consider buying  flood insurance. Wildfires dramatically change landscape and ground conditions, increasing the risk of flooding due to heavy rains, flash flooding and mudflows. The risk can remain high until vegetation is restored, up to five years after a wildfire.

For more tips, please visit Dealing with Weather Emergencies.

If you’re looking for a way to help those in need, please see  Wise giving in the wake of California’s wildfires.


SOURCE: Colleen Tressler, Consumer Education Specialist, FTC