Birmingham, AL -- The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Alabama Emergency Management Agency (AEMA) lend a helping hand to those impacted by disasters.
It is a balancing act for the two government entities: on one hand, delivering aid - mostly financial - to those in need; on the other hand, protecting taxpayers' money.
"Most people who apply for funds do so honestly," said Federal Coordinating Officer Gracia Szczech of FEMA, "but every now and then a person tries to take undue advantage of the disaster assistance system."
There are several ways for the government to detect fraud. All cases suspected of fraud are referred to the U.S. Department of Justice for investigation and possible criminal charges.
"We want to make sure that disaster assistance goes to victims who need it," said State Coordinating Officer Perry Martin. "We urge anyone who makes an error when submitting their claim to contact the FEMA Helpline to amend their claim."
To withdraw or make a correction on a submitted claim, one should call the FEMA Helpline at 1-800-621-3362 (or 1-800-462-7585, for those with speech or hearing difficulties).
If you know someone who is committing fraud with disaster assistance, call the Office of the Inspector General, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, at 1-800-323-8603.