As government agencies and charitable groups continue providing disaster assistance to Texans affected by the recent tropical storm, scam artists, identity thieves and other criminals may attempt to prey on vulnerable survivors. The most common post-disaster fraud practices include phony housing inspectors, fraudulent building contractors, bogus pleas for disaster donations and fake offers of state or federal aid.
Local, state and federal government officials advise all residents that no individual with a government disaster assistance agency will call or text asking for financial account information.
Survivors also should keep in mind that federal workers never ask for or accept money and always carry identification badges. There is no fee required to apply for or to get disaster assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency or the U.S. Small Business Administration.
Scam attempts can be made over the phone, by mail or email, text or in person. Unfortunately, there seems to be no limit to the inventiveness of those wanting to commit fraud. Residents are asked to remain alert, ask questions and require photo identification when someone claims to represent a government agency.
Those who question the validity of a contact or suspect fraud are encouraged to call the toll-free FEMA Disaster Fraud Hotline at (866) 720-5721. Complaints also may be made by contacting local law enforcement agencies.