PASADENA, Calif.? -- State and federal officials are warning California wildfire disaster survivors to be aware of telephone scams and other fraudulent activity during this disaster recovery effort.
"It is imperative for residents of Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside and Santa Barbara counties to be wary of those who are trying to profit from this disaster," said State Coordinating Officer Tom Maruyama. "We encourage all citizens to report suspicious behavior to police."
Here are some tips to avoid being a victim of a scam:
- Always ask for identification. FEMA inspectors wear photo ID badges.
- DO NOT give bank account information or your nine-digit FEMA application number to anyone who calls you on the telephone.?
- When you call the FEMA registration number at 1-800-621-3362 (FEMA) to apply for federal and state disaster assistance, registration operators will ask you for:
- The street address of your damaged property.
- A current mailing address and telephone number where you can be reached.
- Your Social Security number.
- Bank account information for electronic funds transfer.?
- Your household's approximate gross income at the time of the fire, or reported business damages and the gross income of your business.
- Information on the type of insurance coverage you have.
- If you suspect fraudulent dealings, contact your local police. You also can call the State and Consumer Services Agency (SCSA) "Consumer Protection Hotline" at 1-800-952-5210 or online at www.rebuildyourlife.ca.gov . At the SCSA website you can check the legitimacy of a particular contractor, as well as any complaints pending against him or her. Contractors also can be investigated through the Better Business Bureau at 909-825-7280 or the Contractors State License Board at 1-800-321-2752. For other agencies, including the Department of Insurance, go to www.oes.ca.gov.
"Remember, FEMA inspectors do not recommend repairs and NEVER charge a fee for any inspection of your home," said Federal Coordinating Officer Mark Neveau. "And any FEMA specialist who telephones you is prepared to answer questions that verify his or her identity."
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.