LINCOLN, Neb. -- As the waters recede from this summer's floods along the Missouri River, survivors need to be aware of scammers looking to fraudulently benefit from the disaster.
Survivors returning to their homes and other property may encounter people posing as inspectors, government officials or contractors. They may try to obtain personal information or collect payment for disaster assistance or repairs.
Please keep in mind that FEMA employees DO NOT solicit or accept money for public services in disaster assistance and recovery. Many legitimate disaster assistance employees may visit your property now or once accessible -- like insurance agents, FEMA Community Relations teams, inspectors and contractors -- but here are some tips to remember to safeguard against fraud:
- Ask to see ID badges. All FEMA employees and contractors will have a laminated photo ID. A FEMA shirt or jacket alone is not proof of identity.
- Safeguard personal information. Be cautious when giving personal information such as Social Security or bank account numbers to anyone. FEMA generally will only request an applicant's Social Security or bank account numbers during the initial registration process. However FEMA inspectors may require verification of identity.
- Beware of people going door-to-door. People knocking on doors at damaged homes or phoning homeowners claiming to be building contractors could be con artists, especially if they ask for personal information or solicit money.
- FEMA Community Relations teams may be in your community distributing flyers mentioning that Social Security or bank account numbers are needed for the registration process, but they will not ask for this information.
- Federal workers do not solicit or accept money. FEMA and U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) staff never charge applicants for disaster assistance, inspections or help to fill out applications. FEMA inspectors verify damages, but do not recommend or hire specific contractors to fix homes.
Always use reliable, licensed contractors and ask for official credentials. If an encounter does seem unusual, do not hesitate to call local law enforcement authorities or the FEMA Disaster Fraud Hotline at (866) 720-5721. Complaints can also be filed with the Nebraska Attorney General's Office Consumer Protection Division at (800) 727-6432.
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.