Common Disaster-Related Rumors

There often are many rumors and scams after a disaster. Do your part to the stop the spread of rumors by doing three easy things: 

  1. Find trusted sources of information. 
  2. Share information from trusted sources. 
  3. Discourage others from sharing information from unverified sources. 
Beware of Fraud and Scams


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Rumor: I can be paid $3,000 a week to assist with storm cleanup.


This is false. FEMA is not paying people weekly to assist with cleanup.

However, during some disasters FEMA may provide a one-time grant to individuals to help them cleanup their home. To find out if you qualify, apply on

Rumor: FEMA will pay for my hotel if I call 1-800-621-3362.


You are not able to request hotel room payment assistance from FEMA by calling any number.

However, FEMA may reimburse lodging expenses to eligible individuals and families. To see if this assistance is available to you, apply at

Rumor: FEMA may be able to reimburse me for lodging expenses if I’m displaced from my primary residence.


FEMA may be able to provide reimbursement for out-of-pocket lodging expenses that are not covered by insurance benefits. A resident’s pre-disaster primary residence must be unlivable or inaccessible to be considered.

Keep copies of your receipts so you can file them along with your disaster assistance application.

Rumor: If I have insurance, I can’t be reimbursed for lodging expenses.


It depends. By law, FEMA cannot duplicate benefits of insurance. If insurance does not cover the entire cost of your lodging expenses during a disaster, you may still be eligible for reimbursement.

Rumor: I will receive reimbursement for my eligible lodging expenses immediately.


This is not true. Your timeline can vary because requests are manually reviewed. For example, in larger scale disasters with many applicants, reimbursement of receipts may take longer.

Rumor: I can get reimbursed for my food or transportation costs while I’m staying at a hotel.


This is not true. Eligible expenses may include the cost of the room and taxes charged by a hotel or other lodging provider. This does not include costs for food, phone calls, transportation or other miscellaneous expenses.

Rumor: FEMA assistance is only for homeowners.


This is not true. FEMA assistance is not just for homeowners. FEMA may also provide assistance to help renters who lost personal property or who were displaced.

Rumor: Others had more damage and need more help, so I can’t apply for assistance.


This is not true. FEMA funding is available to assist all eligible survivors who have suffered losses because of disasters.

Rumor: It costs money for an inspection or to apply for assistance.


This is not true. FEMA personnel never charge applicants for disaster assistance. FEMA inspections that help determine disaster assistance do not cost money.

If you have knowledge of fraud, waste or abuse you can report it anonymously by calling the FEMA Disaster Fraud Hotline at 866-720-5721. You can also email

Rumor: If I receive a grant from FEMA, I have to pay it back.


This is not true. FEMA grants do not have to be paid back.

When you apply for disaster assistance, you may be referred to the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) for an SBA disaster assistance loan. Which does require repayment.

Last updated October 3, 2022