Here are some tips to remember to safeguard against fraud:
- Ask to see ID badges. All FEMA representatives will have a laminated photo ID. A FEMA shirt or jacket is not proof of identity. If you are unsure or uncomfortable with anyone you encounter, please contact local law enforcement.
- Safeguard personal information. Be cautious when giving personal information such as Social Security or bank account numbers to anyone. FEMA will only request an applicant’s bank account numbers during the initial registration process. However FEMA inspectors will require verification of identity.
- Beware of people going door-to-door. People knocking on doors at damaged homes or phoning homeowners claiming to be building contractors could be con artists, especially if they ask for personal information or solicit money.
Federal workers do not solicit or accept money. FEMA and SBA staff never charge applicants for disaster assistance, inspections or help to fill out applications. FEMA inspectors verify damages, but do not involve themselves in any aspect of the repair nor recommend any contractor.
FEMA Disaster Survivor Assistance teams may be in your community providing information and assisting people in registering with FEMA or updating their files. The teams coordinate their activities with local emergency managers and make local law enforcement agencies aware of their presence. The teams always consist of at least two people, and may include employees of WV DHSEM as well as FEMA.
They will always be wearing FEMA or W.Va. DHSEM shirts and laminated photo IDs. Disaster Survivor Assistance teams never ask for or accept payment for their services.
- Always use licensed and bonded contractors and ask for credentials. Use West Virginia contractors if you can. You can verify a West Virginia contractor’s license online at www.wvlabor.com/newwebsite/Pages/contractor_searchNEW.cfm
- Never pay for anything in advance of work being done.
- FEMA has a Disaster Fraud Hotline: 866-720-5721 .
- The W.Va. Attorney General’s Office has a Consumer Protection & Anti-Trust Division
P.O. Box 1789
Charleston, WV 25326