SAN JUAN, PR -- As the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) continues providing disaster aid to survivors of Hurricane Irene in Puerto Rico, it advices applicants to provide accurate and verifiable information. FEMA may use an automated system that cross-checks information with other agencies and can request applicants for evidence of insurance coverage to avoid the duplication of benefits.
"In most occasions, disaster aid applicants do not deliberately intend to commit fraud. However, FEMA has responsibility to take all necessary actions against those that do. We will use any available tools to ensure the appropriate use of federal funds," explained Justo Hernandez, Federal Coordinating Officer. "We will investigate, and make as many referrals for investigation, as needed."
FEMA recommends those who registered for aid who think they made a mistake reporting their damages or losses, to call the disaster assistance helpline at 800-621-FEMA (3362) or (TTY) 800-462-7585 for those with speech and hearing disabilities.
Anyone with information about fraud, waste or abuse done by a contractor, an inspector, or a disaster survivor, who may have defrauded the government in connection with Hurricane Irene disaster recovery, should contact the Department of Homeland Security's Office of Inspector General (OIG) through 800-323-8603, via fax (202) 254-4292, via email firstname.lastname@example.org, or write to MAIL STOP 2600 Attention: Office of Investigations -- Hotline 245 Murray Drive, SW, Building 410 Washington, DC 20528.
During this hurricane season's peak, emergency preparedness should be a priority for every community member. To learn on emergency preparedness, how to create an emergency family plan and kit, residents may visit www.ready.gov.
FEMA's mission 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.