Beware Of Disaster-Related Telephone Scams

Variations of a telephone scam directed at residents and business owners in disaster-designated areas that began in Ohio and spread to West Virginia and North Carolina, are reportedly now operating along the East Coast, according to federal and state officials.

The callers claim to be representatives of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and say they are calling in reference to government grant information. According to reports, the callers promise you are eligible for a sum of money up to $25,000 and the only cost to you is a one-time processing fee that ranges from $249 to $295. The caller has a financial institution routing number (the numbers that appear along the bottom of your personal checks), and they read the numbers to you then ask if they are correct, anticipating you will then provide them with the correct numbers. The phone number the caller gives is 1-800-551-7099.

“It is imperative for residents in the Commonwealth to be wary of those who are trying to profit from this disaster,” said State Coordinating Officer David Sanko. “We encourage all citizens to report suspicious behavior to police.”

“We want to emphasize to people in Delaware, Montgomery and Philadelphia counties the importance of being aware of what type of information they give out and who they give it to,” said Federal Coordinating Officer Tom Davies. “FEMA never charges applicants for disaster assistance,” Davies said.

Do not give out personal information or bank account information over the telephone or to anyone who does not show proof of his/her identity. Please remember, if you are contacted by the scam, contact your local law enforcement agency.

On March 1, 2003, FEMA became part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. FEMA’s continuing mission within the new department is to lead the effort to prepare the nation for all hazards and effectively manage federal response and recovery efforts following any national incident. FEMA also initiates proactive mitigation activities, trains first responders, and manages the National Flood Insurance Program and the U.S. Fire Administration.

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