Nashville Tornado: FEMA Tips to avoid being scammed after a disaster

These are common post-disaster fraud practices survivors should be vigilant of:

Housing inspectors claiming to represent FEMA

  • Be cautious if somebody asks for your nine-digit registration number. FEMA inspectors will never ask for this information. They already have it in their records.
  • FEMA inspectors never require banking or other personal information such as a Social Security number.
  • Ask the inspectors to show you their identification badge. Federal employees and contractors always wear an official government or government contractor badge to identify themselves.
  • Call FEMA at 800-621-3362 (TTY 800-462-7585) if you are suspicious of someone who says they’re a housing inspector sent by FEMA.

Fake offers of local or federal aid

  • Don’t trust someone who asks for money. Federal and local disaster workers do not solicit or accept money. FEMA and U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) staff never charge applicants for disaster assistance, inspections or help in filling out applications.
  • Don’t believe anyone who promises a disaster grant and asks for large cash deposits or advance payments in full.
  • Report suspected fraud to the NC Consumer Protection Division at 877-5-NO SCAM (919-716-0058 for Spanish speakers).

Avoiding fraudulent building contractors

  • Use licensed or verified local contractors backed by reliable references.
  • To find licensed certified contractors check the North Carolina Department of Consumer Affairs. The department offers tips on disaster repair here.
  • Don’t pay more than half the costs of repairs in advance.
  • Demand that contractors detail the job to be done with guarantees in writing.

If you suspect fraud, call the National Center for Disaster Fraud Hotline at 866-720-5721

Information provided by The Department of Homeland Security. For more information, visit this link.

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