Crime & Police Reports

Vermont survivors: be alert for fraud and scams

• Bookmarks: 322


Disasters often bring out criminals looking to prey on survivors who appear to be easy targets for their scams.

Survivors should be aware that fraud and scams can occur anytime. FEMA encourages survivors to be alert and report any suspicious activity or potential fraud by scam artists, identity thieves and other criminals.

Anyone who suspects fraud, waste, abuse, or mismanagement involving disaster relief should call the FEMA disaster fraud hotline at (866) 720-5721, email [email protected], or write to: FEMA Fraud and Internal Investigation Division, 400 C Street SW Mail Stop 3005, Washington, D.C. 20472-3005.

Scam artists may pose as government officials, aid workers, charitable organizations, or insurance employees. Never trust anyone who claims to be a disaster assistance employee and asks for money. Local and federal disaster assistance workers do not ask for or accept money.

All FEMA representatives wear a photo identification badge. A FEMA shirt is not absolute proof of identity.

For questions about whether someone is representing FEMA, call the FEMA helpline at (800) 621-3362.

FEMA home inspectors are currently working in Caledonia, Chittenden, Lamoille, Orange, Orleans, Rutland, Washington, Windham, and Windsor counties to assist with recovery efforts. FEMA inspectors will already have the homeowner’s nine-digit registration number, and will never ask for money, banking information, or a Social Security number.

If an inspector comes to the home and the owner did not submit a FEMA application, the owner’s information may have been used to apply without their knowledge. If so, they should inform the inspector they did not apply, and the inspector will submit a request to stop further processing of the application.

FEMA recommends people monitor their credit reports for any accounts or changes they do not recognize. In that case, they will need to take additional steps, including filing a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission through its website: IdentityTheft.gov.

Always use licensed and bonded contractors when rebuilding. Ask for credentials before hiring, and never pay for work in advance. FEMA does not have “approved” contractors. Beware of contractors who say they’re affiliated with FEMA: FEMA does not endorse any business, product, or service. People shouldn’t sign anything they don’t understand, or contracts with blank spaces.

To watch an accessible video about disaster fraud, visit FEMA Accessible: Beware Scam Artists (Open Captioned) on YouTube.

Help is available to all homeowners, not only those affected by the recent storms.

If anyone has questions about how to make their home safer, call the FEMA hazard mitigation helpline at (833) 336-2487.

FEMA mitigation experts are also available for in-person advice on rebuilding at disaster recovery centers, which are open 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Saturday, in affected areas across the state. To find a nearby center, visit fema.gov/drc, or call FEMA at (800) 621-3362 for recovery center locations. — from FEMA.

Share
322 recommended
1000 views
bookmark icon