La Crosse, WI -- Emergency officials urge victims of the recent storms and flooding to check the credentials of anyone who arrives to inspect damaged property.
"You must first apply for disaster assistance before inspectors will view your damaged property," said Tom Davies, of FEMA, who leads the federal side of the recovery. "If you had damage and have not yet applied, call the FEMA toll--free registration number, 1-800-462-9029. The hearing or speech impaired should call TTY 1-800-462-7585. Inspections follow registration."
"All FEMA inspectors carry identification," Davies said. "Their badges have their names and pictures. They say "FEMA," and each one has a bar code. If the badges lack any of these elements, or if they look crudely made, they're fake. Always check the inspectors' credentials, and if you have any doubt, don't let them into your house."
State Coordinating Officer Al Shanks added that inspectors do not charge for their services. "Inspection is part of the recovery process," Shanks said. "Applicants do not pay anything for inspections. Don't be fooled into thinking payment will speed the process or increase your assistance, either. If inspectors ask for money, they are committing fraud."
Davies advised anyone with doubts about a FEMA inspector to call the FEMA Helpline, at 1-800- 525-0321. Those with a hearing or speech impairment can call TTY 1-800-462-7585. "If in doubt, get the inspector's name and badge number, but don't take chances," Davies advised. "Your safety is the most important consideration."