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How to avoid falling for a FEMA-related scam

Here’s how to avoid getting scammed during a FEMA home Inspection.
Posted at 4:05 PM, Feb 09, 2023
and last updated 2023-02-10 00:45:34-05

If you applied for storm-related relief through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), you can expect a phone call within 10 days after submitting an application.

Here are some things to know to make sure you are not falling for a scam.

FEMA wants people to be aware that the phone number might come up with an out-of-state area code or an “unavailable” caller ID.

If that is the case, the inspector will leave a voicemail.

FEMA representatives will reach out three times to schedule a visit.

Once you get in touch with FEMA, write down the inspector’s name, date of call, appointment information, and phone number.

“When they do set up an appointment and come in to meet with you, they will have their federal ID with them,” said Renee Bafalis, a FEMA media relations specialist.

FEMA inspections take about 30 to 45 minutes. This is a free service, so you should never be asked for any sort of monetary compensation.

“They go out to document the damages you’ve incurred,” explained Bafalis. “There are several things they will require from you. They need a photo ID, make sure that you are the person that lives in that residence, proof of occupancy of the residence.”

Other documents you might be asked to show are an insurance policy, a list of people living in the home, and evidence to point out damage caused by a disaster.

You're also advised to keep a paper trail of repair receipts and estimates.

If you have questions, you can visit one of the three local disaster recovery centers before they close:

The center located at the San Luis Obispo Veterans Memorial Building will close on Tuesday, Feb. 14. It is open daily from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

In Santa Barbara, the center located at Direct Relief will close on Wednesday, Feb. 15. It will be closed temporarily from Feb. 8 through Feb. 10.

The center located at Allan Hancock College in Santa Maria will be open through Sunday, Feb. 26. It is currently open between 10 a.m. and 7 p.m.

Starting February 11, the two locations in Santa Barbara County will be open from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

You can also call the FEMA Helpline at 800-621-3362