A message from your District Attorney
Natural disasters can bring out the worst in criminals looking to take advantage. The San Diego County District Attorney's Office is working to keep you from being re-victimized by various scams and illegal activity. Together, we will get through this latest natural disaster. The District Attorney's Office stands ready to help residents - and prosecute criminals who are looking to take advantage of the situation. Be sure to protect yourself and take advantage of resources listed here that are available to you.

Summer Stephan District Attorney, San Diego County

Fraudulent Contractors
Contractors must be licensed. It is illegal for an unlicensed person to perform contracting work on any project valued at $500 or more in combined labor and material costs.

  • Contracting without a license during a declared state of emergency is a felony. Ask to see their contractor's license and a photo ID. Verify the license number matches the contractor.
  • Do not deal with contractors who ask you to pay for the entire job up front. As a down payment, a contractor cannot collect more than $1,000 or 10% of the contract price, whichever is less.
  • Payments should not get ahead of completed work and all promises should be in writing.
  • Make sure the contractor carries workers' compensation and liability insurance.
  • Report fraudulent contractors to the Contractors State Licensing Board

Price Gouging
After a state of emergency is declared, it is illegal for individuals or businesses to increase prices of essential goods and services by more than ten percent unless they can prove it was due to an increase in their supplier's price. Such goods and services include:

  • Hotel or motel rooms
  • Residential monthly rental units
  • Food and supplies
  • Transportation
  • Home heating oil and gasoline
  • Building materials

Report price gouging to the District Attorney's Consumer Protection Unit

Public Adjuster Scam
A public adjuster is a person who advocates for the policyholder in appraising and negotiating a claimant's insurance claim, usually for a percentage of the claim. To verify a public adjuster's license, contact the Department of Insurance

Adjuster/Contractor Collusion
An insurance adjuster might refer a homeowner to a specific contractor, often pre-arranging inflated prices and receiving a kickback. If you suspect collusion, report it to the Contractors State License Board.

Door-To-Door Solicitations
Solicitors often attempt to intimidate or rush you into buying their products. If you decide to use their services, ensure you have all promises in writing. Remember, you have the right to return any purchase within three days.

Charity Scams
Fraudsters may collect funds for fake charities. Only donate to organizations you know are reliable, and be wary of copycat names. Request proof that your contribution is tax-deductible. Report fraudulent charities to the California Attorney General's Charitable Trust Section.

Fake Emergency Officials
Always verify the identification of anyone claiming to be an emergency official before allowing them into your home. Be cautious of demands for processing fees to secure relief.

Vendor Fraud
Some vendors falsely claim they can facilitate low-interest loans or expedite insurance claims for a fee. They may also sell substandard materials. Beware of intermediaries who overcharge and under-deliver.

Debris-Clearing Scams
Scammers may offer to remove debris from your property, demanding large deposits before disappearing with your money. Others may dump debris illegally, leaving you responsible for removal and fines. Ensure you only pay after the job is complete and that debris is disposed of responsibly.

Water Testing
Fraudulent firms might offer free water testing to sell overpriced or unnecessary water treatment devices. Public water systems and county health departments can provide accurate information about your water quality.

Resources for San Diego residents impacted by the January floods

Banks and Financial Institutions

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau


The CFPB is an U.S. government agency dedicated to making sure you are treated fairly by banks, lenders, and financial institutions. There are consumer resources to prepare yourself to make informed financial decisions and you can submit a complaint if you’ve unsuccessfully tried to resolve an issue with a financial institution.

Department of Financial Protection and Innovation


DFPI, a California regulatory agency, protects consumers and provides services to businesses engaged in financial transactions. It regulates various financial services, products, and professionals. Complaints can be submitted if a DFPI licensee violates the law or acts improperly.

Consumer Fraud

Attorney General, State of California


The Protecting Consumers page on the Attorney General’s website provides a complaint referral table to identify regulatory agencies. Consumers can file complaints about fraudulent business practices on the Attorney General’s site if no other agency regulates the business.

Better Business Bureau, San Diego


The Better Business Bureau helps individuals, businesses, and nonprofits recover from disasters. Resources include business research, scam alerts, complaint filing, and dispute resolution processes. Learn more about their disaster recovery information at

Bureau of Household Goods and Services


The BHGS regulates household movers performing moves of household goods and personal effects over any public highway in the state. Consumers can file complaints against restoration companies that transport household goods off the property for home repairs.

California Attorney General’s Office

The Charitable Trust Section of the California Attorney General’s Office regulates charities and professional fundraisers who solicit on their behalf. Complaints can be filed online regarding the misuse of charitable assets or fraudulent fundraising practices.

California Public Utilities Commission


The CPUC provides services regarding public utilities, ranging from filing a complaint and resolving billing problems to providing financial assistance.

Contractors State Licensing Board


The CSLB regulates and takes administrative disciplinary action against licensed and unlicensed contractors. Consumers can check the license status of potential contractors and file complaints about plumbing, HVAC, landscaping, home repairs, and electrical work.

San Diego County District Attorney’s Office


The Consumer Protection Unit investigates and prosecutes unfair or deceptive business practices that victimize consumers. Complaints involving false advertising, dishonest services, and other unlawful practices can be submitted online.

Disaster Resources

2-1-1 San Diego


A resource and information hub connecting people with community, health, and disaster services.

County of San Diego, Storm Recovery Information

This website is a critical resource for San Diego County citizens to stay informed during emergencies. Specifically, information can be found here for those impacted with the January 2024 storms. This site provides links to the following resources: temporary lodging, emergency food programs, flood recovery assistance, and more.

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)


FEMA assistance is available for designated federal disaster areas.

Small Business Administration Disaster Loans

Offers loans to aid small businesses affected by disasters.


California Department of Insurance


The CDI uses its authority to protect Californians from insurance rates that are excessive, inadequate, or unfairly discriminatory, oversee insurer solvency to pay claims, resolve consumer complaints, and investigate and prosecute insurance fraud. Consumers can file online and can access information on dealing with natural disasters online at

Landlord/Tenant Issues

Business, Consumer Services and Housing Agency

BCSH has online resources for rental assistance, mortgage relief, and eviction protections.

San Diego Housing Commission


Resources for tenants and landlords. The City of San Diego provides protections for residential tenants facing potential eviction. These protections include help to relocate to a different residence if a tenant is evicted, in certain circumstances. Strong protections for residential renters are intended to help prevent homelessness and to promote housing and neighborhood stability.

Legal Representation

California Western Community Law Project

The Community Law Project (CLP) provides legal advice to low-income and indigent members of the local San Diego community. The clinics are located at 5 locations throughout the county. CLP provides free legal advice, assistance navigating through complex social systems, and referrals to resources to build self-sufficiency and economic opportunity. CLP’s client base includes individuals who are homeless, disabled, immigrants, or otherwise without access to legal services.

Elder Law & Advocacy


ELA provides legal support for Seniors and their caregivers, health insurance counselling and advocacy, and offers education on these issues to the community that it serves. Some of the areas they often address include but are not limited to advanced health care directives, consumer protection, contract disputes, elder abuse, Medicare and long-term insurance, powers of attorney and tenant and housing issues.

Legal Aid Society of San Diego


The Legal Aid Society of San Diego is a nonprofit law firm that provides free legal services to lower income San Diego residents. The provide a wide range of legal services for free. Some areas they can help with include landlord-tenant issues, public housing, and foreclosure, amongst others.

San Diego County Bar Association


This is the Bar Association for lawyers living and practicing in San Diego. They offer a lawyer referral service to help find you legal counsel. They can also assist with finding pro bono (free) legal services to handle a wide range of legal issues.

San Diego Volunteer Lawyer Program


SDVLP’s housing law programs provide legal services to low-income San Diegans who need assistance with various housing/landlord-tenant issues. Free services for those who qualify include the unlawful detainer clinic, tenant’s rights program, and more. They are available to help with housing issues.

Small Claims Court Legal Advisory Board

858-634-1777 The Superior Court provides a Small Claims Legal Advisor at no cost to assist with small claims issues and procedures. Advisors are available for 30 minutes sessions in person at the Hall of Justice in Downtown San Diego or remotely via e-mail or chat. Legal issues they can help with are limited to items within the small claims court jurisdiction. These may include: traffic citations, unlimited /limited civil cases, unlawful detainer (evictions), restraining orders, family law matters, probate, bankruptcy, mechanic liens, name changes, and expungements.

Real Estate Fraud

Department of Real Estate


The mission of the California Department of Real Estate is to safeguard and promote the public interests in real estate matters through licensure, regulation, education and enforcement. Some common items they can assist with include complaints about real estate agents, issues with real estate transactions, issues with mortgage loans and property management complaints.

County of San Diego Assessor and Recorder’s Office


The Assessor/Recorder/County Clerk is offering qualified property owners tax relief if their property was impacted by the recent floods in San Diego County. Other services include free vital and property records to replace your copies if yours were damaged in the flood. You can also sign up for “Owner Alert,” a free service to monitor your home and property title to prevent fraud.

San Diego County District Attorney’s Office


The San Diego County District Attorney’s Office is dedicated to the investigation and prosecution of real estate related crimes. If you suspect you are a victim of Real Estate Fraud, or have knowledge of such activity, please report this information to the District Attorney’s Office via the website or phone number listed above.

To report a crime, contact your local law enforcement agency