FTC warns of FEMA identity theft, scams

February 26, 2018 GMT

Courtesy of the Canton Regional and Greater West Virginia Better Business Bureau

If you’ve been affected by a recent natural disaster has someone called asking to verify your FEMA registration even though you didn’t apply? Or have you tried to claim FEMA benefits or assistance, but were told you had already applied?

After receiving multiple complaints from people living in these affected areas, the Federal Trade Commission wants you to know about a scam involving FEMA impersonators and identity theft.

How the scam works

Like many scams, any time there is a natural disaster or emergency affecting many people, con artists look for ways to cash in. In most cases, the scammers are pretending to be someone they are not and making promises they never intend to keep.

Here is what people are reporting to the FTC regarding this scheme:

• Someone pretending to be from FEMA is calling to ask for personal information

• People’s identities have been stolen after a recent natural disaster

• Someone has filed for FEMA benefits using consumer’s names

Tips to spot this scam

• FEMA has tips to help protect yourself from disaster fraud. This includes what to do if you try to register for FEMA assistance online, but get a verification error and what to do if someone calls asking you to verify your FEMA registration. Visit www.fema.gov, and then search for ‘disaster fraud’.

• Never share information with someone that has called you when you have not initiated the contact.

• When unsure if you are speaking with an actual FEMA representative, call FEMA at 800-621-3362.

For more information

Has your identity already been stolen? Visit Identity-Theft.gov to receive a step-by-step personal recovery plan. Report fraud to the FTC at ftc.gov/complaint.

Visit bbb.org/canton to look up a business, file a complaint, write a customer review, report a scam with Scam Tracker and more. The Canton Regional and Greater West Virginia Better Business Bureau offers tips and advice for consumers to avoid fraudulent practices.