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


Use the dropdown menu to filter by the type of question or type in a keyword.

Rumor: You must be a citizen to apply for federal assistance.


This is not true. FEMA and the state, territory or tribal government may provide direct and financial disaster assistance to U.S. citizens, non-citizen nationals and qualified aliens.

To learn more visit our Citizenship and Immigration Status Requirements for Federal Public Benefits page.

Rumor: Receiving a letter from FEMA stating that I am not eligible means I will not receive any assistance.


It depends. When you receive a letter that states your application is “ineligible” or “incomplete” you can check your status online or call the FEMA helpline, 800-621-3362, for more information.

This letter may mean that more information is needed, or that the applicant’s insurance claim needs to be settled before FEMA disaster assistance can be granted.

Rumor: If my application is denied, there is nothing I can do about it.


This is not true. Every applicant is entitled to appeal. You must submit your appeal within 60 days of your decision letter.

Rumor: I don’t own a business so I can’t apply for a Small Business Administration (SBA) loan.


You don't need to own a business to request assistance from the U.S. Small Business Administration. The disaster loan application offers affordable financial help to homeowners and renters.

Rumor: Survivors can’t register if they have insurance.


This is not true. If you have insurance, you can apply for FEMA assistance but you must file an insurance claim first. If insurance does not cover the entire cost of disaster-related expenses, you may still be eligible.

Visit the FAQ page for more information.

Rumor: If you receive a grant from FEMA you will get less money from Social Security.


This is not true. FEMA assistance is nontaxable and will not affect your eligibility for Social Security, Medicaid or other federal benefits.

Rumor: I am automatically registered for FEMA assistance if I reported damage to my local parish, county officials, or a disaster relief organization.


This is not true. To be considered for federal disaster assistance, you must apply directly with FEMA.

Rumor: My homeowner’s insurance includes flood insurance.


This is not true. Homeowner insurance policies do not normally cover flood damage. Flood insurance is typically a separate policy.

Visit the National Flood Insurance Program page to purchase flood insurance or find out more.

Rumor: A little water wouldn’t cause much damage.


This is not true. Just five inches of water can cause over $25,000 worth of damage.

Visit the National Flood Insurance Program page for more information.

Rumor: Flood insurance is only available for homeowners.


This is not true. Flood insurance is available to homeowners, renters, condos and businesses. 

Visit the National Flood Insurance Program page for more information.

Last updated October 3, 2022