State and federal recovery officials encourage Texas residents to watch for and report any suspicious activity or potential fraud from scam artists, identity thieves and other criminals who may try to prey on survivors vulnerable due to the October severe storms, tornadoes, straight-line winds and flooding. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) does not endorse any commercial businesses, products or services.
FEMA encourages survivors to be especially vigilant for these common post-disaster fraud practices:
- Fraudulent building contractors. When hiring a contractor:
- Bogus pleas for post-disaster donations: Unscrupulous solicitors may play on the emotions of disaster survivors. Disaster aid solicitations may arrive by phone, email, letter or face-to-face visits.
- Fake offers of state or federal aid:
- Phony housing inspectors: Homeowners and registered FEMA applicants may be vulnerable to phony housing inspectors claiming to represent FEMA or the SBA.
- Inspectors have each applicant’s nine-digit registration number. FEMA inspectors NEVER require banking or other personal information.
- The job of FEMA housing inspectors is to verify damage. Inspectors do not hire or endorse specific contractors to fix homes or recommend repairs. They do not determine eligibility for assistance.
If you suspect fraud, call the FEMA Disaster Fraud Hotline at 866-720-5721. If you are the victim of a home repair scam or price gouging, call the Office of the Texas Attorney General at 800-252-8011.
Texas homeowners and renters who register for disaster assistance with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), prior to the Jan. 25 deadline, are encouraged by recovery officials to “stay in touch.” Survivors changing their address or phone numbers should update that information with FEMA. Missing or erroneous information could result in delays getting a home inspection or in receiving assistance.
Survivors with questions regarding the application or the appeals process, or who need to register for assistance may visit online at DisasterAssistance.govor by phone (voice, 711 or relay service) at 800-621-3362. (TTY users should call 800-462-7585.) The toll-free lines are open 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week. Multilingual operators are available.
For more information on Texas recovery, visit the disaster web page at www.fema.gov/disaster/4245, Twitter at https://www.twitter.com/femaregion6and the Texas Division of Emergency Management website, https://www.txdps.state.tx.us/dem.
Beware: Disaster Recovery Is Fertile Ground For Fraud and Scam Artists was originally published on boom92houston.com