RALEIGH, N.C. -- Disasters bring out the best in people ? and the worst.? If you survived the April 16 severe storms and tornadoes, don’t be victimized by scam artists who approach you in person or on the telephone.
If you suspect anyone ? contractor, inspector, disaster survivor or someone posing as any of these ? of committing fraudulent activities, call the Disaster Fraud Hotline toll-free at 800-323-8603.? Also let local law enforcement agencies know.
The North Carolina Attorney General’s Office has a toll-free number to report scams ? 877-5-NO-SCAM ? and a website to file consumer complaints at www.ncdoj.gov
To safeguard against disaster-related fraud, Federal Emergency Management Agency and North Carolina Emergency Management officials suggest the following precautions:
Ask for ID. If someone represents him or herself as a federal employee, such as an inspector, but doesn't produce identification, you should ask to see the identification. Note: a FEMA shirt or jacket is not absolute proof of someone's affiliation with the government.
Inspectors sent by FEMA, or verifiers from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), carry official, laminated photo identification. Applicants may receive a visit from more than one inspector or verifier.
Safeguard personal information. Do not give out your Social Security number, bank account or your FEMA registration number to individuals claiming to be affiliated with the federal government. FEMA inspectors never require this information.
When you called FEMA to register, you were asked for your Social Security number. If you asked for direct deposit, you also gave a bank number. If a FEMA representative makes a follow-up call to you, he or she will ask for the last four digits of your Social Security number and then he or she will verify other critical information which may include your banking information, depending on the reason for the call.
If you have any doubts, you can shut the door or hang up and dial the FEMA Helpline at 800-621-FEMA (3362). That way, you are in charge of the call.
Homeowners, renters and businesses of all sizes with questions about the SBA disaster loan application process can call the SBA Customer Service Center at 800-659-2955.
Be alert when your doorbell rings. People going door-to-door to damaged homes or telephoning disaster survivors and claiming to be building contractors could be frauds. If visitors or callers solicit personal information such as Social Security or bank account numbers, they are not legitimate.
Federal workers do not solicit or accept money. Remember, FEMA and SBA staff members never charge applicants for disaster assistance, inspections, or for help in filling out applications. If in doubt, do not give out information. You should report people claiming to be government workers to local police.
FEMA inspectors only verify damage. FEMA inspectors do not hire or endorse specific contractors to repair damage.
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.