FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) – As dozens of families pick up the pieces of their homes destroyed by fires in Central California, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) is warning against scammers targeting the victims of Natural Disaster.

In this week’s Watch Out Wednesday, we examine how scammers are targeting natural disaster victims.

“No one is immune from being hacked and having their information compromised,” said Central California BBB President Blair Looney.

In July, the Oak and Washburn fires devastated the north valley as the two infernos tore through more than a hundred buildings.

As property owners deal with their loss, the BBB warns of scams targeted at victims who lost vital documents like passports, social security cards, driver’s licenses, or birth certificates.

“All of those documents are replaceable,” said Looney. “That is what the scammers know and so they pretend to be that government agency.”

After devastating floods in Kentucky, the BBB said scammers hid behind fake text messages that offered replacement driver’s licenses to flood victims, the text included links to websites asking for money and personal information.

The BBB said these scammers often continue to text and call people saying they need to replace Medicare, Medicaid, or social security cars, all with additional costs.

“It is a tragedy what these people are doing, scheming off of them,” said Looney.

BBB’s Safety tips to avoid these scammers:

  1. Double-check URLs
  2. Double reference the website with the BBB scam tracker
  3. Make online purchases with a credit card in case of fraud
  4. Check if your state or federal government offers free document replacement due to the natural disaster
  5. Try not to use 3rd party vendors

The BBB recommends getting a fireproof box to store important documents in case of natural disasters/