FBI Houston Warns About Hurricane-Related Fraud
HOUSTON, TX—As assessment of the damage caused by Hurricane Laura begins, the FBI Houston Division warns the public about the potential for hurricane-related fraud. Unfortunately, hurricane or natural disaster damage often provides opportunities for criminals to scam storm victims and those who are assisting victims with recovery.
Scammers may go door to door to target residents in areas affected by hurricanes. It’s important for the public to know that government workers are required to carry official identification and show it if requested. Closely scrutinize any ID you see and call the agency directly to confirm a worker’s identity if you are unsure. Scammers may also call, text, mail, or email with promises to quickly provide aid. Do not give out personal information without confirming the legitimacy of the person contacting you and the agency. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) says officials with government disaster assistance agencies do not call or text asking for financial information, and there is no fee required to apply for assistance.
If your property was damaged by Hurricane Laura and you have homeowners insurance, contact your insurance company. Also, contact FEMA or follow guidance from your local government.
Consumers should also be aware of scammers posing as representatives of charities seeking donations for disaster relief. Only donate to charities you know and trust, and never click on links or open attachments in unsolicited emails. Make your donations using a check or credit card. If a charity or organization asks you to donate through cash, gift card, virtual currency, or wire transfer, it’s probably a scam.
If you believe you have been a victim of hurricane-related fraud, contact the National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) at 1-866-720-5721 or file a complaint online at https://www.justice.gov/disaster-fraud/webform/ncdf-disaster-complaint-form. You can also report suspicious email solicitations or fraudulent websites to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) at http://www.ic3.gov.
The NCDF was established in 2005 by the Department of Justice in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.