FEMA: Beware of post-disaster fraud
Published 1:29 pm Wednesday, March 29, 2023
The Federal Emergency Management Agency warns survivors of disaster to beware of con artists and criminals trying to take advantage of bad situations.
Criminals may try to obtain money or steal personal information through fraud or identity theft. In some cases, thieves try to apply for FEMA assistance using names, addresses and Social Security numbers they have stolen from survivors.
If a FEMA Inspector comes to your home and you have not submitted a FEMA application, your information may have been used without your knowledge to create the application. If so, inform the inspector that you did not apply so they can submit a request to stop further processing of the application.
If you did not apply but receive a letter from FEMA, call the Helpline at 800-621-3362. The helpline will submit a request to stop further processing on that application. If you want to apply for FEMA assistance after stopping an application made in your name without your knowledge, the Helpline will assist you in that.
FEMA Disaster Survivor Assistance teams, housing inspectors and other officials will be working in areas impacted by the March tornadoes and straight-line winds in Mississippi. They will carry official identification badges with photo IDs. FEMA and U.S. Small Business Administration representatives never charge applicants for assistance, inspections or help in filling out applications.
Do not trust anyone who promises a disaster grant in return for payment.
Be wary of unexpected phone calls or visits to your home from people claiming to be FEMA housing inspectors or claiming to work for FEMA. Actual representatives will have your FEMA application number.
Do not give banking information to a person claiming to be a FEMA housing inspector. FEMA inspectors are never authorized to collect personal financial information.
If you believe you are the victim of a scam, report it immediately to law enforcement.
If you suspect fraud involving FEMA, report it to the FEMA Fraud Branch at StopFEMAFraud@fema.dhs.gov, or write to FEMA Fraud and Internal Investigation Division, 400 C Street SW Mail Stop 3005, Washington DC 20472-3005. If you suspect identity theft, visit IdentityTheft.gov.
A list of charities approved by the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance can be found at www.give.org.