Scammers using new FEMA program to steal personal information, BBB reports
FORT MYERS, Fla. — Scammers are using a new United States Federal Program as a chance to steal personal information from grieving family members, a scam alert from the Better Business Bureau warns.
People have reported getting a call, email, or text message from someone claiming to be from the Federal Emergency Management Agency or another government agency. The scammer claims to be part of the official COVID-19 Funeral Assistance program.
The faux government official claims that you qualify for financial assistance. But first, they need some information to “register” you for the program. Scammers may ask for the name, birth date, and social security number of a deceased family member. Sharing this information can lead to identity theft.
It’s worth noting that not all scammers impersonating FEMA are capitalizing on the funeral program. In another version of this scam, con artists claim to be FEMA representatives following up on your COVID-19 vaccine. This is another ploy to get personal information.
“I was called by a man who said he was ‘FEMA,’” one person said in a report to Scam Tracker. “He wanted me to give him my Social Security number. He claimed I did not fill out all the paperwork when I got vaccinated.”
HOW TO SPOT A SCAM
The real version of the FEMA program has no deadline to apply, so no matter what the scammers claim, you don’t need to act fast. If a person is pressuring you to take immediate action, they’re a scammer.
Do not pay any money for a “free” government grant or program. It is not really free if there is a fee involved. A real government agency will not ask for an advanced processing fee. Instead, find out if the agency is legitimate by checking grants.gov.
The government will not contact you via phone call, email or text unless you granted permission. This FEMA program is no exception. They will not contact you unless you called the agency beforehand or applied for funeral assistance.
If you doubt that a FEMA representative is legitimate, hang up the phone or stop emailing. Then, report the suspicious calls or messages. Contact to the FEMA Helpline at?800-621-3362 or the National Center for Disaster Fraud Hotline, 866-720-5721. You also may contact local police.
CLICK HERE to learn more about FEMA’s legitimate COVID-19 funeral assistance program.
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