In The Wake Of The Storm, Beware Of Fraud

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Release date: 
October 20, 2003
Release Number: 
1493-36

Washington, DC - As victims of Hurricane Isabel turn their energy and resources to cleaning up, repairing and replacing their damaged property, they can become targets for con artists warn the District of Columbia Emergency Management Agency (DCEMA) and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

"If someone takes your money, it may be impossible to get it back," said Barbara Childs-Pair, deputy director for DCEMA. "If you suspect fraud, call and report it to 311, the Metropolitan Police Department non-emergency phone number."

"District residents who suffered through Hurricane Isabel and have begun to place their lives back in normalcy become easy targets for venturous entrepreneurs looking to make fast bucks," said Scott Wells. "FEMA encourages each resident to thoroughly check out vendors and the need for new purchases before spending your hard earned savings in scams and unnecessary expenditures."

  • FEMA does not endorse individual loan companies or contractors, so be wary of any business that claims it has governmental support.

  • The only way to apply for disaster assistance from FEMA is to call the toll-free tele-registration number at 1-800-621-FEMA (3362), TTY 1-800-462-7585. The deadline for registration is November 19.

  • Be suspicious of anyone who offers to increase the amount of your disaster damage assessment.

  • Be leery of offers to help you fill out loan or grant forms and applications for a fee. If you need help filling out your Small Business Administration (SBA) loan package, call the SBA toll-free number at 1-800-659-2955 or the FEMA Helpline at 1-800-525-0321, TTY 1-800-462-7585.

  • Always read carefully all document applications, vouchers and other papers relating to disaster assistance. If you have questions about the legality of a document claiming to be from FEMA, call the Helpline.

  • A common scam occurs when a person poses as an inspector or loss verifier of flood-damaged property. Some of these "inspectors" charge a fee for what they do. Some may have official-looking identification that they use to get inside residents' property.

  • Beware as well of fraudulent home repair salesmen or contractors. Before replacing an appliance, check to see whether or not it is usable. Often, applicants only need to clean the item thoroughly and start it up.

  • Check with the manufacturer for any special recommendations. A water heater, for example is a sealed unit. If the sealed tank itself has not broken, even after being submerged in floodwater, it may still work. Have the valves checked and, if necessary, cleaned out.

  • Electric water heaters may only need to have the element and/or thermostat replaced.

On March 1, 2003, FEMA became part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. FEMA's continuing mission within the new department is to lead the effort to prepare the nation for all hazards and effectively manage federal response and recovery efforts following any national incident. FEMA also initiates proactive mitigation activities, trains first responders, and manages Citizen Corps, the National Flood Insurance Program and the U.S. Fire Administration.

Last Updated: 
July 16, 2012 - 18:46
State/Tribal Government or Region: 
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