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Options related to a FEMA debt

I received a letter from FEMA saying I owe the Federal government money. What are my options?

When you receive the Notice of Debt letter, your options are:

  • Pay the amount in full (payment in full within 30 days is the only way to avoid interest);
  • Request a payment plan (interest will begin to be applied after 30 days);
  • Request a compromise of the debt;
  • File an appeal within 60 days (interest will apply beginning 30 days after the date on the Notice of Debt letter).

If you file an appeal, FEMA will make a decision on your appeal and send you a letter explaining its decision and what will happen next. Since interest begins accruing after 30 days, we recommend you contact the FEMA Finance Center (FFC) to make payment arrangements while you are appealing the debt. If your appeal is approved, any money you paid in excess of the final debt amount will be returned to you.

If you do not complete one of the options outlined above, or if your appeal is denied, your debt will become final and the (FFC) will continue the collection process by sending you an additional letter, known as a "Letter of Intent."

The "Letter of Intent" is a notification that FEMA is now taking further action to collect your debt. This letter explains that if you do not pay or resolve the debt with FFC within 30 days, your debt will be forwarded to the U.S. Department of the Treasury for collection. If your debt becomes delinquent, you may be charged penalties, and the interest will continue to grow.

If you do not pay your debt, make arrangements to satisfy your debt with the FEMA Finance Center, or appeal FEMA's decision, your debt will be forwarded to the U.S. Department of the Treasury for collection. Methods for collecting debt include "offset" (deducting money from other Federal or State payments you may be receiving, like Social Security, income tax refunds, etc.), referral to a private collection agency, or administrative wage garnishment among other debt collection methods. In addition, collection fees will be added to the amounts already being charged.

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Last Updated: 
Tue, 06/25/2013 - 12:14