MONTGOMERY, Ala. – The great majority of people registering with Federal Emergency Management Agency for help have genuine needs.
Unfortunately, the rush to get assistance by those affected by the Alabama tornadoes, severe storms and flooding of April 28 through May 5 also may present opportunities to defraud taxpayers.
Fraud increases the cost of recovery after a disaster and gives money to those without disaster-related losses, say emergency management officials.
The Inspector General for FEMA investigates complaints of fraud, waste or abuse involving FEMA contracts, programs or personnel.
The office of the Inspector General maintains a toll-free Fraud Hotline at 866-720-5721.
Potential cases of fraud or misuse can be referred to the U.S. Justice Department for prosecution. Penalties for felony offenses can be severe.
Here are some examples of complaints that are typically filed with the FEMA Office of the Inspector General:
- Applicants used false names and multiple and/or fictitious addresses;
- Applicants claimed losses they didn’t sustain or to which they were not entitled;
- Applicants did not use FEMA grant money for the intended purposes;
- Municipal officials used FEMA grant money for their own benefit;
- FEMA checks were stolen; and
- Applicants received duplicate payments from FEMA and their insurance companies.
Complaints also may be filed by writing to:
National Center for Disaster Fraud
Baton Rouge, LA 70821-4909
Those who visit the Office of the Inspector General website at www.fema.gov/ig/hotline.shtm will find an option to submit a complaint using internet electronic mail. Those who submit complaints via email must waive confidentiality because of the non-secure nature of Internet electronic mail systems.
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.
Disaster recovery assistance is available without regard to race, color, religion, nationality, sex, age, disability, English proficiency or economic status. If you or someone you know has been discriminated against, call FEMA toll-free at 800-621-FEMA (3362). For TTY call 800-462-7585.
FEMA’s temporary housing assistance and grants for childcare, medical, dental expenses and/or funeral expenses do not require individuals to apply for an SBA loan. However, those who receive SBA loan applications must submit them to SBA to be eligible for assistance that covers personal property, transportation, vehicle repair or replacement, and moving and storage expenses.
For more information on Alabama’s disaster recovery, visit www.fema.gov or http://www.ema.alabama.gov/. For the joint Facebook page, go to www.facebook.com/AlabamaEMA. To receive Twitter updates: http://twitter.com/AlabamaEMA or www.twitter.com/femaregion4