Oklahomans whose homes or businesses were damaged by the recent storms, flooding and tornadoes may have made an appointment with an inspector and are waiting to have the damage to their property assessed.
Unfortunately, every disaster has individuals who try to take advantage of disaster victims, authorities say. Officials of the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management (OEM) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) are warning residents and business owners to beware of anyone claiming to be from a state or federal agency who does not have proper identification.
After individuals register for disaster assistance, depending on their needs, inspectors from one or more agencies may be assigned to assess damages. Here are some of the things homeowners should know and should do:
- Always insist on seeing an official photo ID with the FEMA seal
- An inspector will never ask for personal information. All information is taken when the homeowner registers by phone or in person before the inspection
- All inspections are made by appointment at the convenience of the homeowner, and inspectors never go door-to-door
- An official inspector will never ask for money
- FEMA inspectors never use vehicles bearing a FEMA logo.
Any person who claims to be a disaster official from a state, federal or local agency should carry an official ID, which the property owner should check carefully. Anyone who is a victim of fraud or suspects someone is posing as a disaster official, call a local law enforcement agency and call the FEMA Office of the Inspector General's waste, fraud and abuse hotline at 1-800-323-8603.
Durant/Bryan County Emergency Management Director James Dalton said there have been no reports of these scams locally, but encourages residents to watch out.
“A FEMA member will not ask for money,” Dalton said. “If somebody asks for money, it is not a legitimate deal.”