Columbus, Ohio -- If someone calls and asks for your bank account number or PIN number to get or increase your ability to get Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) disaster assistance, please do not give out such information, federal and state recovery officials said today.
“There are no fees for FEMA assistance and anyone who claims to be able to assist you for a fee may be committing fraud,” said Lee Champagne, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) coordinating officer of FEMA.
“However, when you call us at 1-800-621-3362 or TTY 1-800-462-7585 to apply for assistance, certain financial information will be asked of you to assist us in determining possible disaster aid. If you would like electronic transfer of the assistance funds, we will need that information,” Champagne said.
Some applicants have received disaster loan applications from the U.S. Small Business Administration, which also does not have a fee. If you have any questions about an application you may contact the SBA Hotline at 1-800-359-2227 or visit their website at www.sba.gov/disasters.
“The warning here is for calls ‘made to you.’ We will not call for such information,” Champagne said. “Do not fall victim to such a scam. If possible get the person’s name, company name, phone number and mailing address, but usually, they will not give it.”
“Whatever you do, do not give your bank account number, your PIN number or other financial information a confidence person could use to access your money,” said Dale Shipley executive director of Ohio Emergency Management Agency and state coordinating officer in the disaster recovery efforts. “Do not be victimized twice by this disaster.”
Officials recommend that applicants who receive such calls should contact the Ohio Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Section toll free at 1-800-282-0515 or online at www.ag.state.oh.us.
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 the National Flood Insurance Program and the U.S. Fire Administration.