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 clean up 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. Renters may apply for disaster assistance with FEMA.

FEMA may be able to provide pre-disaster renters with money to help pay for short-term lodging expenses, costs for renting temporary housing, and the costs of replacing or repairing a vehicle and other necessary personal property.  FEMA may also be able to help pay for uninsured medical, dental, childcare, moving and storage expenses.

If Direct Housing Assistance is authorized for the disaster, pre-disaster renters may be eligible for Direct Temporary Housing Assistance if they are unable to use financial assistance to secure temporary housing.

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 will never ask you to pay to apply for assistance or receive an inspection. 

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. In most cases, FEMA grants do not have to be paid back.  If you have insurance that covers your temporary housing costs, but you ask FEMA to advance you some money to help you pay for those costs while your insurance is delayed, you will need to pay that money back to FEMA after you receive your insurance settlement.

After applying, you may be referred to the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) for an SBA disaster assistance loan as part of the disaster assistance process.

FEMA works with SBA to determine if you should get money for personal property or transportation assistance from FEMA or SBA. FEMA is not allowed to provide money for these losses to people who may qualify for an SBA loan.

FEMA will automatically refer you to SBA to be considered for a disaster loan if you meet SBA’s income standards. FEMA will use the household annual gross income and number of dependents listed on your application to determine if FEMA will refer you to SBA.

You don’t have to accept an SBA loan offer; however, if you are approved and you do not accept it, you will not be referred back to FEMA for personal property or transportation assistance. You can call the FEMA Helpline at 800-621-3362 if you have additional questions or need more information.  

Last updated October 3, 2022