AURORA, IL -- The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) remind Illinois residents affected by the severe storms and flooding of April 16 to May 5 that the possibility of fraud persists.
Recent reports indicate a woman who claimed to be a FEMA employee has approached disaster survivors—mostly senior citizens— and offered to register them for federal assistance for a fee of $150. The same person may also be telling survivors they must pay her so they can collect an anticipated federal disaster assistance check. Both offers are attempts to defraud.
FEMA and IEMA reiterate the following:
- FEMA does not charge for registration or for information that it gives out. Apply free online at www.DisasterAssistance.gov or call toll-free 1-800-621-3362 (TTY 1-800-462-7585). Multilingual phone operators are available on the FEMA helpline. Choose Option 2 for Spanish and Option 3 for other languages.
- FEMA does not send out text messages asking recipients to call fee-based telephone numbers. The toll-free numbers above are used for all contact with FEMA, including applying and follow-up.
- FEMA and the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) do not charge fees for information regarding filling out the SBA loan applications. Free assistance is available by calling SBA’s toll-free number, 1-800-659-2955 (TTY 1-800-877-8339).
- FEMA does not charge a fee to disaster survivors who receive a federal disaster benefit.
FEMA’s Disaster Survivor Assistance (DSA) crews are canvassing affected areas to provide information about disaster assistance and give Illinois residents an opportunity to register. While FEMA DSA crews are offering at-your-door service, it is important to remain vigilant about protecting your personal information:
- Residents should always ask for ID. Federal and state officials always have photo identification clearly visible. If someone represents themselves as a federal or state employee, but does not produce identification, ask to see it.
- DSA crew members may offer residents the opportunity to use a tablet computer to register, or ask to enter their information on their behalf. If residents prefer to use personal computers or phones to register, they can call 1-800-621-3362 (TTY 1-800-462-7585), visit www.DisasterAssistance.gov or use a mobile device at m.fema.gov.
Anyone with knowledge of fraud, waste or abuse may call the FEMA Fraud Hotline at 1-800-323-8603. You may also send an email to DHSOIGHotline@dhs.gov. Complaints may also be made via the FEMA Helpline at 1-800-621-3362 (TTY 1-800-462-7585) or with state or local law enforcement officials or consumer agencies.
FEMA's mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.
Follow FEMA online at www.twitter.com/femaregion5, www.facebook.com/fema, and www.youtube.com/fema. Also, follow Administrator Craig Fugate's activities at www.twitter.com/craigatfema. The social media links provided are for reference only.