AUSTIN, Texas -- Texans working to recover from the recent wildfires have a lot on their plates, and mistakes can happen. Making a mistake during the registration process and not correcting it, however, could prove costly.
The Texas Division of Emergency Management and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) want to remind Texans to provide accurate and verifiable information when applying for assistance.
Survivors who believe they simply made an error when reporting damage, or miscalculated or misrepresented losses, have the opportunity to correct or cancel the claim. They need only call the FEMA Helpline at 1-800-621-3362 — the same number they called when registering for assistance -- to withdraw or correct the application.
“We encourage Texans to double check their registration information and if they find they have made a mistake, correct it as soon as possible,” said Federal Coordinating Office Kevin L. Hannes.
Additionally, those who receive a federal grant for disaster recovery are advised to use the money wisely. All recovery assistance must be used for its intended purpose. Grant recipients are urged to keep receipts and other documentation for at least three years to demonstrate how the money was used to meet disaster-related needs.
Applicants are required to sign a declaration and a release certifying all funds will be spent for their intended purposes. A survivor who receives an insurance settlement to cover the same expenses must reimburse FEMA. Random audits may be done to confirm funds were spent properly.
Survivors who provide false information on their applications or use their funds improperly may find their cases referred to the Office of the Inspector General (OIG). OIG is tasked with conducting independent inspections, audits and investigations that identify and prevent waste, fraud, abuse and mismanagement. If fraud is suspected, OIG may refer the case to the U.S. Department of Justice for prosecution.
Anyone with knowledge of fraud, waste or abuse involving FEMA contracts, programs or personnel may call the FEMA OIG Fraud Hotline at 1-800-323-8603 or send an email to DHSOIGHotline@dhs.gov.
Survivors who have submitted a claim and need to correct an error can call FEMA toll free at 1-800-621-3362 or TTY 1-800-462-7585. Those who use 711-Relay or Video Relay Services can call 1-800-621-3362. Specialists are available by phone from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. seven days a week.
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.