During the aftermath of natural disasters scam artists travel door to door impersonating government officials, utility workers, and safety inspectors in order to commit various acts of fraud. Those who pretend to be government officials may claim to be able to be able to help victims qualify for disaster relief payments or FEMA funds in return for a ‘processing’ fee.
Government agencies, including FEMA, do not charge application fees. Other impersonators claiming to be safety inspectors or utility workers will ask to enter the house in order to ‘check’ on safety issues but instead they’re actually casing the place for a future burglary.
Some work in teams where one will distract the victim while the other commits the theft. Always ask for identification before letting anyone enter your home and review the below tips to assist in protecting yourself from becoming a victim of fraud.
Tips for Spotting Fake Disaster Officials and Other Impersonators:
- Examine Their Identification Carefully – Some fake identification cards or badges can look very convincing, if you’re unsure research and call the organization the unexpected guest is supposedly from before letting them enter. If they’re legitimate they won’t mind waiting outside.
- Lock The Door – Some scam artists will ask homeowners to follow them out into the yard or around the outside of the house in order to inspect something. If they successfully lure you away, another scam artist may enter your house unnoticed. If you decided to leave your front door, lock it behind you and take your keys.
- Guard Your Information. Some scam artists may be looking to commit identity theft with your personal information by having you fill out applications or forms. Be careful with your information and who you give it out to. Offer to take the completed forms to the agency or mail them in yourself. Remember, no government agency charges an application fee.
If you believe you have been victimized by a scam or wish to report suspicious activity, please file a report here.