Jumbo Home Loans

Competitive rates and flexible options on loans up to $3 Million!* Learn more

Dream Home - Bay Fed Jumbo Loans

Forest shrouded in fog

Wildfire Scams: How to Help Others and Protect Yourself

With many people in our communities displaced as a result of the current wildfires, there is a great need for donations and help. While thousands of people are truly in need, others are taking advantage of the situation by running scams.

To make sure your donations go to those who really need help, be aware of the current scams and how to recognize them.

  • Agency Scams. Santa Cruz County Chief Deputy Chris Clark said Sunday during a briefing that residents could get a call from someone claiming to be from PG&E, law enforcement, or another agency, claiming they owe the agency money. These calls are not legitimate.

    "If you get a call from any sort of official source, if you question the validity of it—and you should question the validity of those calls—contact the agency directly,” Clark said.

    When you get a call from an agency asking for money, do not take action during that call. Clark said people should hang up and then call the agency themselves to confirm if the call was legitimate. Make sure that you do not redial the number, but instead call a number listed on the agency’s website or on a bill.

  • Firefighting Fund Scams. In Monterey County, the sheriff's office is alerting people to a scam involving fake firefighting funds. The agency said that they have received multiple reports of people getting messages asking for donations for these fake funds.

    "Please exercise sound judgement and do not let this criminal element take advantage of your good nature and desire to help," said the sheriff's office on Facebook.

  • Fundraisers and Crowdfunding Scams. Cal Fire Santa Cruz and San Mateo Unit warned of a GoFundMe account that was established in support of a Cal Fire employee who was burglarized while working the fire. According to Cal Fire, that account is not associated with Cal Fire or anyone connected to the department.

    Before giving to any campaign on GoFundMe.com or any other fundraising site, ask yourself, have I ever met the people I am donating to? Do I know and trust the creator of the campaign? If you answer no to either question, you may want to reconsider your donation. If you are still compelled to give, do an online search about the people and/or organization involved in the campaign. You may discover other people have already posted warnings. If you are not sure about an individual campaign, consider giving to a larger one, such as the Red Cross Northern California or the Community Foundation Santa Cruz County.

Emergencies have a tendency to make us react without thinking things through, which is why donation fraud is so common during a crisis. To protect yourself and make sure your money goes to where it will do the most good, carefully consider each donation request.

Thank you for supporting our community in this time of need!

mobile apps