WEST DES MOINES, Iowa -- The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency Management Division have been made aware that fraudulent text messages have been sent to disaster survivors in neighboring states.
The reported text message tells recipients they have a message waiting from FEMA and instructs them to push the star button on their cell phone to obtain information about their federal disaster assistance. A subscription of $9.99 per month is then charged to the owner of the cell phone if the star button is pushed.
These text messages are not being sent from FEMA. Anyone who receives these questionable messages is urged by FEMA to report them to their state or local consumer protection agencies or to the Department of Homeland Security's Office of Inspector General. Individuals should not respond to any text messages claiming to be from FEMA.
Disaster recovery can inspire fraudulent actions in various forms. Be advised:
- FEMA services never cost money. Beware of phone calls from people who say they can help with your FEMA application for a fee.
- If you have applied with FEMA and you receive a call, the caller will ask you to verify a portion of your FEMA registration number or Social Security number; a FEMA employee will be able to confirm the number.
- Never give your Social Security number or bank account information to someone who calls or visits you. This information is only collected by FEMA.
- Call the police or sheriff's department to verify any contractor who solicits you.
- Check contractors' state registration and proof of insurance.
- Never rely on verbal commitments. Get warranties and written contracts including start and completion dates and details about scheduled work and required materials.
Report fraud by calling the Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General's Hotline at 800-323-8603 or e-mail DHSOIGHOTLINE@dhs.gov.
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.