LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – State and federal recovery officials urge Arkansas residents affected by the April 27 severe storms, tornadoes and floods to watch for and report any suspicious activity or potential fraud.
As government agencies and charitable groups continue to provide disaster assistance, scam artists, identity thieves and other criminals may attempt to prey on vulnerable survivors. Since the recovery effort began, authorities have received reports of unscrupulous individuals trying to do just that.
The most common post-disaster fraud practices include phony housing inspectors, fraudulent building contractors, bogus pleas for disaster donations and fake offers of state or federal aid. Authorities in Arkansas have reported one resident received a phone call claiming to be from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The caller attempted to get the person’s bank account information and debit card number.
“No government disaster assistance agency will call you and ask for your financial account information,” said State Coordinating Officer David Maxwell of the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management (ADEM). “Unless you place the call yourself, don’t give out that information over the phone. It can lead to identity theft.”
Survivors should also keep in mind that federal and state workers never ask for or accept money, and always carry identification badges. There is no fee required to apply for or to get disaster assistance from FEMA, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) or the state.
“Scam attempts can be made over the phone, by mail or email, or in person,” said Federal Coordinating Officer Timothy J. Scranton of FEMA. “Unfortunately, there seems to be no limit to the inventiveness of these con artists. We urge Arkansans to remain alert, ask questions and require identification when someone claims to represent a government agency.”
Those who suspect fraud should call the FEMA Disaster Fraud Hotline toll free at 1-866-720-5721. Complaints may also be made to local law enforcement agencies and through the Arkansas Attorney General Consumer Protection Hotline at 1-800-482-8982.
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.
The Arkansas Department of Emergency Management (ADEM) is the state's homeland security and preparedness agency. The agency works to identify and lessen the effects of emergencies, disasters and threats to Arkansas by developing effective prevention, preparedness, mitigation, response and recovery actions for all disasters and emergencies. For additional information, contact ADEM at (501) 683-6700 or visit the website at www.adem.arkansas.gov.
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. Follow us on Twitter at http://twitter.com/#!/femaregion6, the R6 Hurricane Preparedness website at www.fema.gov/about/regions/regionvi/updates.shtm and the FEMA Blog at http://blog.fema.gov.
The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) is the federal government’s primary source of money for the long-term rebuilding of disaster-damaged private property. SBA helps homeowners, renters, businesses of all sizes, and private non-profit organizations fund repairs or rebuilding efforts and cover the cost of replacing lost or disaster-damaged personal property. These disaster loans cover losses not fully compensated by insurance or other recoveries and do not duplicate benefits of other agencies or organizations. For information about SBA programs, applicants can go to www.sba.gov/disaster or call (800) 659-2955 (TTY 1-800-977-8339).