CARSON CITY, Nev. -- Following severe winter storms and flooding in Lyon County, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recommends residents affected by the disaster continue to be alert to potential fraud by dishonest individuals taking advantage of the disaster situation.
"FEMA officials will not ask for bank information unless an individual is signing up for direct deposit," said FEMA Federal Coordinating Officer Mike Karl. "We are not aware of anyone taking advantage of residents affected by this disaster, but it has happened in other disaster areas and it's good to be aware that it can happen anywhere."
All FEMA inspectors are required to carry photo identification and there are no FEMA approved contractors. State and federal officials have already cautioned victims to check credentials and to be wary of sharing financial or personal information. Just as in a non-disaster situation, residents affected by the disaster are encouraged to be aware of scams and fraud.
"The Governor, the Attorney General and other state officials have made it clear that fraud and other attempts to take advantage of disaster victims will not be tolerated," said State Coordinating Officer Frank Siracusa, chief of the Nevada Division of Emergency Management. "I urge anyone affected by the disaster to be cautious."
Lyon County residents should be aware of common ploys, such as phone calls from people claiming to be with FEMA and asking for personal information. Never casually give out any personal information over the phone. If there is ever a doubt about callers, one way to check their identity is to ask them for their phone number and call them back to make the verification. For questions concerning credentials, residents should contact local law enforcement officials.
Those beginning the rebuilding process can get tips on hiring contractors and how to avoid contractor fraud by going online at www.fema.gov/rebuild/recover/contractor.shtm.
FEMA encourages anyone who believes they may have witnessed fraudulent activity to report it immediately through:
- The U.S. Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General's hotline at 1-800-323-8603;
- Nevada's Bureau of Consumer Protection by calling 1-800-266-8688; and
- Online at ag.state.nv.us/org/bcp/complaint_form_bcplv.pdf. Return the form to the Nevada Attorney General's office in one of these ways:
- By mail to:
Office of the Attorney General Nevada Department of Justice
Bureau of Consumer Protection
100 N. Carson St.
Carson City, NV 89701
- By fax at 775-684-1170; or
- By email to email@example.com (scan the form and any attachments, save them to a pdf file format and then attach them to the email).
To register for FEMA assistance, call 1-800-621-FEMA (3362), TTY 1-800-462-7585 or online at www.fema.gov.
FEMA coordinates the federal government's role in preparing for, preventing, mitigating the effects of, responding to, and recovering from all domestic disasters, whether natural or man-made, including acts of terror.