FEMA warns disaster survivors of holiday scams this season

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The logo of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is seen at its headquarters August 27, 2011 in Washington, DC. AFP PHOTO/Mandel NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)

BATON ROUGE, La (BRPROUD)- The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is warning disaster survivors to look out for potential con artist that may try to steal money or personal information or identity theft this holiday season.

According to the news release—scammers may pose as federal disaster workers by wearing a jacket or FEMA t-shirt but this is not certified proof of identity.

FEMA representatives do ask for social security and bank account numbers when you apply for assistance and may ask for it again after you apply. Be cautious when giving this information to others who ask for it. Scam artists may pose as government officials, aid workers, or insurance company employees.

Disaster survivors should also always ask to see their FEMA badge. All FEMA representatives carry an identification badge with a photograph.

The release also states that FEMA representatives do not ask for money from disaster survivors, or for payment for any services. They do not ask for information during unsolicited telephone calls or through email. FEMA will not contact you unless you have called FEMA first or applied for assistance.

Other types of fraud which you may experience after a disaster:

  • Phony property inspections or inspectors: FEMA inspectors will never ask for your registration number. No government disaster assistance official will call you to ask for your financial account information. If you doubt a FEMA representative is legitimate, hang up and call the FEMA Helpline at 800-621-3362 to report the incident.
  • Phony building contractors: FEMA does not hire or endorse specific contractors to fix homes or recommend repairs. A FEMA housing inspector’s job is to verify damage. Always hire a reputable engineer, architect or building official to inspect your home. An unethical contractor may create damage to get work.

To report scams, fraud and identity-theft contact: FEMA’s toll-free Disaster Fraud Hotline at 866-720-5721

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