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Officials warn fire victims about post-disaster scams

The Oregon Debris Task Management Force, Oregon Dept. of Justice and the Environmental Protection Agency are warning fire victims to watch out for post-disaster scams.

Posted: Nov 10, 2020 5:47 PM

MEDFORD, Ore. -- The Oregon Debris Task Management Force, Oregon Dept. of Justice and the Environmental Protection Agency are warning fire victims to watch out for post-disaster scams.

Officials say some fire victims are receiving calls about phony inspections, questionable testings and vague cleanup offers.

They say some scammers are pretending to be EPA certified contractors. Those contractors are going door-to-door and asking to sample debris and ash for asbestos.

They're also requesting payments for the work to be completed.

From our point of view, it's secondhand from talking to residents and we are hearing that people have already paid $1,200 to get their stuff sampled," said Randy Nattis, incident commander for EPA.

Officials say homeowners should known that there are no tests or payments required for EPA-related cleanup work.

EPA also won't cleanup your property without a signed Right of Entry form.

“I am particularly concerned though about individuals who may not even know that they’re victimized," sais Ellen Klem, director of education and outreach for the Oregon Dept. of Justice. "Those are the cases that really keep me up at night, so that’s why we want to raise that general awareness and let people know that we’re here.”

Klem suggests researching contractors before accepting any help. You should also carefully review anything they ask you to sign.

The Oregon Dept. of Justice has resources available to help you avoid post-disaster scams.

If you're doing cleanup yourself, landfills or transfer stations may require some testing.

“As a reminder, fire damaged properties have hidden dangers, such asbestos and munitions chemicals, compressed cylinders, gases, and other household hazardous waste," Nattis said. "There can also be many physical and unknown risks that EPA trained experts with the appropriate equipment and protective gear can safely address.”

The state encourages you to call your local landfill or transfer station before you haul your materials there to find out what they accept.

Also, to find out what their requirements are for testing and handling and make sure that you get qualified professionals to do that for you.

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