Beware of People Using Hurricane Irma to Cheat Survivors
FEMA News Release
BRUNSWICK, Ga. — Identity thieves and other criminals may attempt to prey on vulnerable survivors as they struggle to recover from the effects of Hurricane Irma. The most common disaster fraud practices include phony housing inspectors, fraudulent building contractors, bogus pleas for disaster donations and fake offers of state or federal aid for a fee.
When hiring a contractor:
- Use licensed local contractors backed by reliable
- Demand that contractors carry general liability insurance and workers’
- Don’t pay more than half the costs of repairs up
Local, state and federal officials never request money for their recovery services and always carry identification badges. There is no fee required to apply for or receive help from FEMA, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) or the state and local governments.
Scam attempts can be made in person, over the phone, by mail or by email and text messages. Be wary of unsolicited offers to help in return for any form of payment including a charitable donation. You do not need anyone to represent you to apply for FEMA assistance, or help from well-known charitable organizations like The American Red Cross, the Salvation Army and others.
You may, however, find that groups from out of state will offer to clear debris from your property and may even offer to make substantial repairs to your home. Those legitimate charitable groups will provide identification and will not ask for money for their services.
The Georgia Department of Law has a website for its Consumer Protection Unit that explains how to file a fraud complaint: http://consumer.georgia.gov/consumer-services/filing-a-complaint. Survivors who suspect fraud attempts should call the FEMA Disaster Fraud Hotline at
Disaster recovery assistance is available without regard to race, color, religion, nationality, sex, age, disability, English proficiency or economic status. If you or someone you know has been discriminated against, call FEMA toll-free at 800-621-FEMA (3362). For TTY call 800-462-7585.
FEMA’s mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards. Follow us on Twitter at https://twitter.com/femaregion4 and the FEMA Blog at http://blog.fema.gov.
The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) is the federal government’s primary source of money for the long-term rebuilding of disaster-damaged private property. SBA helps homeowners, renters, businesses of all sizes, and private non-profit organizations fund repairs or rebuilding efforts and cover the cost of replacing lost or disaster-damaged personal property. These disaster loans cover losses not fully compensated by insurance or other recoveries and do not duplicate benefits of other agencies or organizations. For more information, applicants may contact SBA’s Disaster Assistance Customer Service Center by calling 800-659-2955, emailing email@example.com, or visiting SBA’s Web site at www.sba.gov/disaster. Deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals may call 800-877-8339.