Hurricane Dorian left damage along the east coast from North Carolina to the Bahamas. While residents work to clean up the affected areas, they face a new threat after the storm – ID theft.
According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), fraud spikes after a natural disaster with identity thieves and other scammers targeting survivors and those looking to help. Identity thieves can pose as fake charity workers, housing inspectors, building contractors, or aid workers with the goal of conning people out of money and their personal information.
FEMA provides the following advice to avoid being scammed:
- A state or federal disaster assistance agency will not call or text you for account information.
- FEMA will only need your personal information during the initial application process.
- FEMA and the Small Business Administration don’t ask for money or need your bank account information.
- Federal and state workers will always carry a laminated photo ID.
- Federal and state workers cannot ask or receive money.
- Federal inspectors do not charge to inspect your property.
- Keep your FEMA registration number safe.
- FEMA doesn’t endorse contractors.
- Always use a licensed contractor.
- Do not pay for work in full before the project starts.
- Always pay with check or credit card to track your payments.
FEMA also has phone numbers for those in need of assistance.
If you are unsure someone calling is from FEMA, hang up and call the main FEMA helpline at 800-621-3362. If you suspect a possible FEMA-related scam, call the FEMA Disaster Fraud Hotline at the toll-free number 866-720-5721.