It is wildfire season in Oregon, and the U.S. Forest Service warns this year could be especially significant for wildfires. Better Business Bureau Northwest + Pacific and the Oregon Office of Emergency Management are reminding consumers and businesses owners to do their part to be prepared in the event of a natural disaster.
“A major disaster can pose significant challenges for individuals and families, as well as for local businesses” says Andrew Phelps, director at OEM. “Even a minor emergency can interfere with your ability to operate or require funding for repairs. There are steps you and your organization can take to be prepared, the most significant of which is to be 2 Weeks Ready.
While strangers will reach out to help others during a natural disaster, scammers make situations worse by trying to take advantage of victims. BBB reminds those affected by natural disasters to beware of out-of-town contractors soliciting businesses with ill intentions.
While they may not all be frauds, they may lack the proper licensing for your area, offer quick fixes or make big promises they can’t deliver. The con artists typically show up after a natural disaster offering to help with cleanup for a low cost. Be sure to research any company before doing business with them and never be pressured into making quick decisions when solicited by a contractor.
Remember, it's just as important to be prepared before disaster strikes. Here are some steps you can take to get your home and business ready:
- Keep documents secure. Store your documents in a safe place that is easy to access such as a safe deposit box. This includes your Social Security card, birth certificate, passport and any other official, hard-to-replace documents. Documents not kept in a safe can land in the wrong hands.
- Have a plan. Familiarize yourself with your town’s emergency plans for shelter and evacuation. Have a list of emergency contacts, the locations frequented by family members and know the specific needs of household members, including animals.
For additional consumer preparedness information, visit the Individual Preparedness page on OEM’s website.
- Practice emergency drills. Businesses should practice drills with employees and have processes in place to account for employees in the event of a disaster.
- Lock up customers' information. Remember to safeguard your customers’ privacy by protecting their data. Lock up important papers or transfer them to the cloud to keep them safe and intact.
For additional business preparedness information, check out the Business Preparedness section on OEM’s website and complete a Preparedness Scorecard for Businesses. Get more scam tips at bbb.org/scamtips.