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Wildfire evacuees face home rebuilding scams as they look to rebuild

Gov. Brown says state will target scammers, price-gouging

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- As Oregon's wildfire victims look to rebuild their homes and lives, they face a new hurdle: scammers looking to take advantage of their personal tragedy.

The Oregon Construction Contractors Board is now warning homeowners about predatory scammers who will pose as contractors.

Stan Jessup, enforcement program manager with the board, provided details Thursday on how these scams work.

"There's so many of these scams out there where a contractor will come in and say, 'OK, I'll do this job for $10,000, but I need $5,000 up front' -- and then they just disappear," he said.

The board warns homeowners to look out for signs of a scam such as making sure the contractor is licensed (you can search online), being cautious with contractors who have out-of-state license plates and making sure the name you write your check to matches with the company's.

And even that might not be enough, Jessup said.

"A home inspector a few years ago was doing a bunch of home inspections. He wasn't licensed, but what he had done was found someone with a similar name and was using their license number," he said. "So when things started to unravel, there's nothing behind it"

Jessup warned to always be careful and look up the details behind the contractors license and do as much research as you can. He said that even if they're going to do the work, you should make sure they are an actual contractor.

"The consequences are generally financial for a homeowner that hires an unlicensed contractor, because there's no recourse if they have problems," he said.

Gov. Kate Brown responded to a question from NewsChannel 21 about the issue at Thursday's wildfires news conference.

"I am asking the attorney general to focus her efforts as we move into recovery around preventing scams and price-gouging," Brown said.

The governor said some evacuees already have been victims.

"I had to sign a price-gouging order last week because of increased prices on certain lodging institutions," Brown said.

Article Topic Follows: Fire Alert

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Blake Allen

Blake Allen is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Blake here.


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