Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Don't Be a Victim Twice

Be Aware of Possible Frauds or Scams

FEMA Release Date: November 4, 2007
Release Number: 1731-014

PASADENA, Calif. -- In the wake of the devastating California fires, those who have suffered damages and losses may be visited or called by someone claiming to be an official disaster aid worker or inspector.

State and federal officials caution residents to check the identification of anyone wanting to enter their home or property and to watch out for scams and fraud that may surface.

"FEMA is dedicated to helping those affected by these life-changing fires rebuild their lives," said Federal Coordinating Officer Mike Hall of FEMA. "It is shameful that some would choose to take advantage of disaster victims during a time when so many are offering their generosity to those who have suffered."

"The Governor, the Attorney General and other state officials have made it clear that fraud and other attempts to take advantage of fire survivors will not be tolerated," said State Coordinating Officer Henry Renteria of the Governor's Office of Emergency Services (OES). "I urge those who have been affected by the fires to error on the side of caution."

It is important that residents carefully check the photo identification of FEMA inspectors, U.S. Small Business Administration loss verifiers, and insurance adjusters who may be visiting their homes. All inspectors are required to carry a photo ID. Residents who have questions concerning the authenticity of a credential should contact their local law enforcement officials.

California residents need to be aware of some common ploys, such as phone calls from people claiming to be with FEMA and asking for personal information. Never casually give out any personal information over the phone. If you have any doubts about the caller, call them back to make verification.

Those beginning the rebuilding process can get tips on hiring contractors and how to avoid contractor fraud by going online at You can also check to see if a contractor is licensed at the same online address or by calling 1-800-321-2752.

FEMA encourages anyone who believes she or he may have witnessed fraudulent activity to report it immediately through the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General's hotline: 1-800-323-8603 or the California Consumer Protection hotline: 1-800-952-5210.

Another helpful information resource for those rebuilding their lives is online at

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