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Beware of FEMA disaster assistance scams

Posted: 9:24 AM, May 14, 2019
Updated: 2019-05-14 10:30:47-04
FEMA

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Scams seem to follow disasters. Don't let your guard down and suffer another disaster like identity theft.

FEMA never charges for services and it does not endorse any commercial business, product, or service. All federal employees have an official badge and you should ask to see it if you have doubts.

Iowa homeland security sent out some tips to avoid a scam, post flood, but it can apply to anybody affected. To read the full release, click here.

Here are some ways to avoid fraud, post-disaster:

When hiring a contractor, some of the best practices are to:

  • Check out the contractor before you sign a contract or pay money.
  • Be sure to check local references and hire local contractors when possible.
  • Get it in writing - Seek several written estimates for the job you want done.
  • Request a copy of the contractor's liability insurance certificate. Put start and completion dates in writing and consequences if the contractor fails to follow them.
  • Avoid paying large sums in advance
  • Insist on a "mechanics lien waiver" in case the contractor fails to pay others for materials or labor.

Fake offers of state or federal aid:

  • Beware of visits, calls, or emails from people claiming to be from FEMA asking for your social security number, bank account or other sensitive information.

Don't fall for scam artists who promise a disaster grant and ask for large cash deposits or advance payments in full.

  • Federal and state workers do not solicit or accept money. FEMA staff never charge applicants for disaster assistance.
  • FEMA inspectors never require banking or other financial information.
  • Inspectors do not hire or endorse specific contractors to fix homes or recommend repairs. The job of FEMA housing inspectors is to verify damage.
  • FEMA inspectors will not condemn a property. That determination is made by your local jurisdiction.