BELLEVUE, Neb. — The spring floods have stolen people's homes and belongings. And now, scammers are trying to steal victim's money and information as well.
"We've started to see a lot of folks apply for disaster assistance, which has been great. Though despite the disaster assistance that's being offered, we have a lot of fraud and a lot of challenges with individuals who are trying to defraud disaster survivors," Federal Emergency Managment Agency (FEMA) Public Information Officer Kevin Sur said.
Money and personal information is taken from victims of the flooding by scam artists posing as FEMA employees. Flooding victim Shan-tel Nigh has not experienced the fraudulent activity herself, but says she can not believe that anyone would take advantage of the victims in this way.
"Why would you scam anyone to begin with, but why would you scam people that are really trying to start over again. It's not easy starting from scratch," she said.
It's important to take precautionary steps to make sure you avoid fraud:
- Ask to see ID badges. All FEMA representatives are required by law to present a laminated photo ID.
-Know that federal workers do not solicit or accept money. FEMA staff never charge applicants for disaster assistance, inspections or help filling out applications.
-Verify a home inspection. You can do this by asking to see an ID badge or call the FEMA helplinie at 1-800-621-3362.
Make sure to also verify charitable solicitations by asking for the charity's information before donating any money.
If you suspect fraudulent activity or question the validity of a request for identifiable information, report the individuals to local law enforcement or call Nebraska Emergency Mangement (NEMA) at 402-471-7421, or FEMA Disaster Fraud Hotline 866-720-5721. You can also visit the website here.
The deadline to apply for disaster assistance is this Friday, September 13. You can apply by calling 1-800-621-3362 or visiting disasterassistance.gov.