Typical Rumors in a Disaster
Here is how to protect yourself, or someone you care about, from disaster fraud:
- Federal and state workers do not ask for, or accept, money. FEMA staff will never charge applicants for disaster assistance, home inspections, or help filling out applications. Stay alert for false promises to speed up the insurance, disaster assistance, or building permit process.
- There may be reports that disaster survivors should not remove flood-damaged sheetrock, flooring, carpet, etc. until the house is assessed by FEMA or insurance adjustors. This is FALSE. Cleaning up and making temporary repairs to your storm-damaged property will not disqualify you from federal disaster assistance. Property owners are encouraged to document storm damage to their properties – either with photographs or video – and to then begin cleaning up and making whatever temporary repairs are necessary to make their homes safe and habitable again. Put your health and safety first, take pictures of your damaged home, make repairs to prevent further damage to your property, and keep your receipts to show the inspector.
- In person, always ask to see any FEMA employee ID badges. FEMA Disaster Survivor Assistance teams may be in impacted communities providing information and assisting survivors with the registration process or their applicant files. A FEMA shirt or jacket is not proof of identity. All FEMA representatives, including our contracted inspectors, will have a laminated photo ID. All National Flood Insurance Program adjusters will have a NFIP Authorized Adjuster Card with their name and the types of claims they may adjust.
- If you are unsure or uncomfortable with anyone you encounter claiming to be an emergency management official, do not give out personal information, and contact local law enforcement. If you suspect fraud, contact the FEMA Disaster Fraud Hotline at 866-720-5721 or report it to the Federal Trade Commission at www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov.
- There are sometimes reports that all emergency shelters and hotels are required to accommodate pets for people who have evacuated. This is FALSE. The Pets Evacuation and Transportation Standards (PETS) Act (Pub. L. 109-308 (2006)) requires all state, local, tribal, and territorial governments that receive FEMA assistance to make plans to accommodate household pets and service animals during emergencies. To locate pet-friendly emergency shelters, please contact your local emergency management agency. Hotels and motels participating in FEMA’s Transitional Sheltering Assistance Program do not fall under the Pets Evacuation and Transportation Standards (PETS) Act (Pub. L. 109-308 (2006)). Please call the hotel before you go and ask if pets are permitted. Hotels must accept service animals, and individuals with access and functional needs should check with the hotel to ensure that accessible lodging accommodations are available to meet their needs.
- There may be reports from businesses that a FEMA list exists that permits travel into the disaster areas. If a business is not on the list, they may not do business in the area. This is FALSE. FEMA will not create such a list. Public and business access into the disaster-impacted areas is solely at the discretion of local officials. Some flooded areas are now dry and available for the public to return, including businesses. However, some areas remain under curfew, some areas remain dangerous and inaccessible, and some areas are subject to new evacuation orders. Before attempting to enter a disaster-impacted area, check with local officials.