JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- Residents recovering from severe weather in Missouri are urged to be careful of fraud and other scams during recovery efforts.
"The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will never ask you for bank account information or your Social Security number unless you initiate the call," said Federal Coordinating Officer Tom Hall. FEMA and the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) are particularly concerned about people pretending to be employed by FEMA, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) or other agencies.
To protect against disaster-related fraud, officials recommend the following precautions:
- Ask for proper identification. A FEMA or SBA shirt or jacket is not absolute proof of someone's affiliation with an agency. Always ask to see the official photo identification card all federal employees carry. If they don't have it, they are not official representatives. Applicants should be aware that they may receive visits from more than one official inspector or representative.
- Safeguard personal information; if it is requested outside of the official registration process, do not provide it. FEMA inspectors never require this information. Applicants who registered for FEMA assistance received a registration number, and official FEMA and/or SBA representatives will have that number with them.
- Neither FEMA nor other agency representatives are allowed to accept money. FEMA does not charge for any programs or services. While FEMA inspectors assess damage, the agency does not hire or endorse specific contractors.
Anyone suspicious of fraud can call the FEMA Disaster Fraud Hotline at 1-866-720-5721.
To register for FEMA disaster assistance, affected residents can do so online at www.DisasterAssistance.gov or by calling 1-800-621-FEMA (3362), TTY 800-462-7585. Hours of operation for the hotline are 7 a.m. - 10 p.m., seven days a week. Applicants will receive a registration number to use with subsequent inquiries or to check the status of their registration. The deadline to apply is August 18.
FEMA's mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.