Things to look for to know you’re talking to a real FEMA employee, not a scammer

Posted at 3:55 PM, Nov 14, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-14 17:43:22-05

FEMA employees are knocking on doors, registering families for grants and making sure Matthew victims know help is available.

"I am starting to see where there can be some hope here and some resolutions to some things. I'll be honest with you, I was ready to give up," said LaVonne Curtis, who lives in the Princess Anne neighborhood in Virginia Beach.

Help is here, but so could frauds and scams. FEMA is warning Matthew victims to watch out for phony contractors, bogus housing inspectors and people who claim to be with FEMA.

"In many instances, we've had people claiming to be from FEMA helping folks for a fee. FEMA will never ask you for money," said Troy York from FEMA.

That's the first red flag. Next, take a good look at what the people are wearing.

"When a FEMA person approaches you, first of all, they're going to have FEMA gear on. They're going to have an identification tag," said York.

Third, you'll only be asked for your social security number one time.

"You'll only be asked that on one occasion during your processing. It's close-held, your info is secured and won't be shared with anyone."

Also in town with FEMA is the Small Business Administration, which gives loans to families so they can get their home back to the way it was before Matthew came to town.

The deadline to register for help with FEMA is Jan. 3. FEMA recommends applying even if you don't think you have damage because flood waters could cause problems to pop up months later.