Fire Inspection Scam Targets East County Businesses

The "contractors" seem to prey on small businesses where English is spoken as a second language

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    A scam in San Diego’s East County seeks to get money for unsolicited fire inspections.

    The Heartland Fire & Rescue sent out a warning that “contractors” are showing up at businesses in El Cajon, La Mesa and Lemon Grove, claiming to be part of the fire department or that the department sent them.

    They then walk around the premises for a visual inspection and later send the businesses a bill, sometimes for hundreds of dollars.

    Heartland Fire said the unaffiliated inspectors seem to prey on small businesses where English is spoken as a second language.

    If you are contacted for an official inspection, Heartland officials said they will be conducted by their personnel or someone from the city. These employees will have fire department uniforms or apparel with the city insignia, and they’ll have badges or department ID cards.

    The contractors wear clothes like these.

    An official inspection would be carried out differently: any violations or corrections are addressed in writing. If there is a fee for the inspection, an invoice is sent from the city’s finance department.

    In some cases, a business owner could make some corrections by themselves, but if the work requires outside help, the business can hire a licensed contractor of their choice.

    Heartland Fire officials said they will not send a contractor to your place of business.

    If you think an inspection may be a scam, call Heartland Fire & Rescue at 619-667-1355.