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Utah officials: Don't fall victim to fire scams

Published August 21, 2013 12:12 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

The Utah Division of Consumer Protection is warning wildfire victims or those looking for ways to help victims to use caution to prevent being scammed.

While no reports of fire-related scams have surfaced yet, the division wants to warn residents to be alert to avoid being taken.

The division said to be wary of door-to-door solicitations from strangers, contractors offering cut-rate repair services or those who try to pressure residents into contracts without getting it in writing.

"Sadly, Utah's wildfires have left many property owners in a very vulnerable situation," said Francine A. Giani, executive director of the state's Department of Commerce, in a statement. "Even though you may be in a hurry to make home repairs, don't let others take advantage the second time around. It just takes five minutes to make sure your contractor is licensed or to check that your donation is going to a charity registered with the state."

Some tips to avoid being scammed:

• Make sure any contractor offering fire repair services is licensed or hasn't faced disciplinary action with the Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing (DOPL) at http://www.dopl.utah.gov or by calling (801) 530-6626.

• Get any contract terms in writing.

• Donate to charities with a track record and a history and check out an organization before donating.

• Do not send or give cash donations. For security and tax record purposes, it is best to pay by check made payable to the charity. And always ask for a receipt.

•• Call the Utah Division of Consumer Protection at (801) 530-6601 to see whether the charity or organization has to be registered in Utah or log on to http://www.consumerprotection.utah.gov.

jstecklein@sltrib.com

Twitter: @sltribjanelle