08/30/11 — State warns of phony FEMA officials

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State warns of phony FEMA officials

By From staff reports
Published in News on August 30, 2011 1:46 PM

State Attorney General Roy Cooper warned residents Monday to be cautious about scammers posing as federal disaster aid workers.

"Con artists pretending to be government officials have tried to steal personal information and money following other disasters," said Cooper in a written release. "Be on the lookout for this scam popping up in North Carolina after Hurricane Irene."

FEMA is in North Carolina to assist storm victims, and state officials are concerned that scammers may take advantage of this and pose as workers with FEMA or other agencies such as the Small Business Administration.

To protect yourself from scammers posing as government officials:

* Ask for official ID. If someone comes to your door claiming to be with FEMA or another government agency, ask to see their official laminated photo ID. Do not be fooled by hats or clothing with government logos.

* Do not share personal information with anyone you don't know who contacts you. Legitimate FEMA workers will not call you, email you or knock on your door to ask for information such as you Social Security Number or bank account number. If you decide to fill out an application for assistance, you will need to provide some personal information.

* Do not pay for disaster assistance help. FEMA does not charge for disaster inspections or help filling out applications for disaster assistance.

* FEMA does not certify or approve contractors. Beware of anyone going door-to-door offering to repair storm damaged homes, especially if they want money upfront and even if they claim to be endorsed by FEMA.

* When in doubt, contact government officials at a location, phone number or website you know to be valid, such as 1-800-621-FEMA (3362),www.disasterassistance.gov, or m.fema.gov (for mobile devices).

* Report suspected fraud to local law enforcement. You can also report home repair scammers, charity scams, and price gouging to the Attorney General's Office at 1-877-5-NO-SCAM or www.ncdoj.gov.