FEMA, Louisiana Officials Warn Hurricane Disaster Victims of Potential Fraud

January 11, 2006

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the State of Louisiana warn disaster victims to be wary of fraud and misinformation.

Victims should be sure they are dealing with FEMA officials before providing any personal information, and should contact FEMA if they have questions or concerns about the truthfulness of claims made by third parties through word of mouth or in print.

Unfortunately, during disasters, there are many opportunities for fraud. Misinformation is also common during disasters. FEMA programs have very specific eligibility criteria, and FEMA cannot reimburse individuals for purchases not eligible for federal or State of Louisiana assistance. Occasionally, individuals or businesses will publish misleading information in an effort to sell products with the promise that FEMA will reimburse the expenses.

Among the items not eligible for FEMA reimbursement include: gasoline, toiletries, household cleaners, food and mold removal. Individuals should always contact FEMA directly before they make any purchases or sign any contracts for detailed information regarding eligible expenses. The purchase of air purification equipment may be eligible only if certified, in writing, by a licensed physician. Disaster victims should not believe that items purchased are covered under FEMA programs simply on the say-so of a third party.

Individuals with questions or concerns with the truth about offers of assistance should also contact FEMA. When dealing face-to-face with individuals, be sure to ask for identification. Disaster victims should also be aware of individuals calling disaster victims claiming to represent FEMA and collecting personal financial information. This information is then used to commit identity theft or to make false claims for disaster assistance.

If you have questions or concerns regarding your registration or eligibility for disaster assistance, more information is available on the FEMA Web site, www.fema.gov, or by calling 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) or TTY 1-800-462-7585.

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