Hurricane Victims Need to Watch for Fake Inspectors

November 8, 2005

Following reports that unscrupulous scam artists are posing as FEMA representatives, the U.S. Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) warns Hurricane Rita victims in Texas to be cautious when working with assessment damage inspectors.

“We are advising applicants to ask for photo identification from anyone identifying themselves as damage inspectors,” said Sandy Coachman, the federal coordinating officer for the Texas recovery effort. “If someone asks you for money for an inspection, or if you feel someone is misrepresenting himself as an inspector, please contact your local police or call the Texas Attorney General’s office.”

More than 900 inspectors have completed more than 150,000 inspections of damaged homes in East Texas. The disaster declaration covers more than 20 counties measuring nearly 250,000 square miles.

Applicants should keep in mind the following points:

* Inspectors come by appointment only.
* All inspectors wear a current photo identification badge.
* Clothing with names or insignias is not an indication they work for the agency.
* All FEMA inspectors carry a hand-held computer, which contains information about the person whose household they are inspecting. The computer is only for FEMA programs. It has no other use to anyone else.
* Inspectors do not determine any dollar amounts. They only look at reported damage, document it, and electronically transmit their reports to FEMA for immediate processing.
* Inspectors do not carry money.

More than 460,000 people have applied for some form of federal-state disaster assistance, a process that starts with a call to 800-621-FEMA. Individuals with hearing or speech impairments who use special keyboard equipment should call (TTY) 800-462-7585.

The toll-free numbers remain open 24 hours a day, seven days a week until further notice.

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