LINCOLN, Neb. -- Survivors recovering from the severe storms, flooding and tornadoes that began in June are urged to beware of scam artists that prey on others’ misfortunes, cautioned state and federal officials.
"Unfortunately, some people take advantage of others when they are at their most vulnerable,” said the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Stephen R. Thompson. “We remind residents to be especially careful."
The most common types of fraud after disaster strikes are scam artists, contractor fraud and identity theft. Scammers may come to your door or call on the phone, pretend to be a disaster official and try to charge money to inspect a home or file a fraudulent claim for assistance. Some contractors might ask for advance payment then disappear. Others might ask for personal information and try to steal your identity.
To protect yourself from scam artists and unscrupulous contractors, keep in mind the following suggestions:
- Do business only with licensed and insured contractors.
- Use known contractors first.
- Ask for references and a written estimate.
- Get a copy of the final, signed contract.
- Do not give personal information such as your bank account numbers, social security number, or other information to those without proper identification.
- Do not sign off before the job is finished.
To report suspected fraud in Nebraska, call the Office of the Attorney General, Consumer Protection Division toll-free at 800-727-6432; En Espanol at 888-850-7555.
The Nebraska Emergency Management Agency’s Web site, http://www.nema.ne.gov/ offers important information for flood survivors, including links to resources from FEMA, the Center for Disease Control, Department of Health and Human Services and other agencies.
FEMA also now offers m.fema.gov that allows web-enabled mobile phone users access to federal Web resources.
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.