In recent years, Americans have been subjected to numerous, devastating natural disasters. From hurricanes to wildfires, millions have had their entire lives turned upside down in the blink of an eye. The sad reality is that people will use these events to take advantage of those in need. Avoiding identity theft after a natural disaster is something you must make a priority should you find yourself in a similar situation.
Fraudulent FEMA Scams
In the aftermath of a natural disaster FEMA can be a lifesaver for many. Federal Emergency Management Agency (or FEMA) was established to help Americans before, during and after disasters. As you might expect, victims of natural disasters are often eager to receive help from FEMA. This creates the perfect avenue for potential scammers to act as fraudulent FEMA associates in order to obtain your personal information. Here are some often reported scams, via the FTC:
- Callers claiming to be from FEMA, requesting your personal information.
- FEMA benefits filed under your name, without your permission.
How To Avoid Being Scammed
In order to receive benefits from FEMA, you must initiate the request. Whether online or via telephone, you are the one who must get the ball rolling. This is one of the easiest ways to detect possible fraud, if you haven’t already filed with FEMA.
- If you are contacted by FEMA (or someone claiming to be from FEMA) via telephone, and you haven’t initiated contact, do not provide any personal information.
- If you have initiated contact but aren’t sure you’re speaking to a legitimate FEMA representative, contact FEMA at 800-621-3362.
- Should you receive an e-mail from what looks to be FEMA, do not provide personal information. Contact FEMA via the phone number listed above to provide information they may require.
Being the victim of a natural disaster can be extremely stressful. It can be difficult to keep your focus during such trying times. We hope that these tips will help you protect your information should you face such trying times.