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Office of Consumer Protection cautions about charity and contractor scams following natural disasters

HELENA – The Montana Office of Consumer Protection (OCP) are cautioning the public about scams that follow wildfires and other natural disasters.

MTN has received several reports of people claiming to have lost their home to the North Hills Fire, even though no structures have been destroyed at this time.

OCP warns that people may see charity scams or contractor scams in the coming months.

Assistant Attorney General Chuck Munson says people should always take a little extra time to research who they’re giving money to and not make donations in the heat of the moment.

“That’s the number one kind of best defense against actually getting scammed. Just stopping and asking some questions about it and learning that there’s resources to answer your questions for you,” said Munson.

Websites like www.charitywatch.org and www.charitynavigator.org can help ensure the charity is legitimate.

Predator contractors may also try to contact people affect near the wildfire offering to clear dead timber.

Landowners should resist high-pressure sales, be especially careful of door-to-door contractors and never sign over insurance checks.

The Better Business Bureau (BBB) offers a profile of contractors on www.BBB.org.

Monetary donations to help support local firefighting efforts can be made to the Lewis and Clark Rural Fire Council and sent to:
Helena Safeway,
C/O Eric Dowell,
611 N. Montana,
Helena, MT 59601.

Federal firefighter agencies are prohibited from accepting donations.

John Riley

John Riley

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