Pub­lic ad­juster scams tar­get wild­fire vic­tims

The Signal - - NEWS - By Sig­nal Staff

Good Sa­mar­i­tans of­ten step up to help vic­tims of wild­fires and other dis­as­ters, but not ev­ery­one who of­fers aid does so for al­tru­is­tic rea­sons.

Pub­lic ad­juster scams oc­cur when a pub­lic ad­juster says an in­surer won't pay the fair value of a prop­erty loss claim and of­fers to help — for a per­cent­age of the amount paid. While pub­lic ad­justers are le­gal in Cal­i­for­nia, dis­hon­est ad­justers can take ad­van­tage of peo­ple in vul­ner­a­ble sit­u­a­tions by charg­ing ex­or­bi­tant fees, steal­ing per­sonal in­for­ma­tion or re­fer­ring them to a shoddy con­trac­tor for a kick­back.

A pub­lic ad­juster was sen­tenced last year to seven years in prison for em­bez­zling $400,000 from Los An­ge­les County fire vic­tims by cash­ing in­sur­ance claim checks that were meant to help re­build homes.

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