Fraud Prevention After a Storm

Education, Home, Security

by Insight Credit Union,

October 11, 2022


As unfortunate as it may be, natural disasters and severe weather can create opportunities for fraud in their wake, occurring at a time when people may be especially vulnerable, or targeting charitable intentions.

Scammers use phone, text, mail, email, and even go door to door to target residents of affected areas following hurricanes and damaging storms.

What to Watch For

It’s important to know, officials with government disaster assistance agencies do not call or text asking for financial account information, and there is no fee required to apply for or get disaster assistance from FEMA or the Small Business Administration. Anyone claiming to be a federal official who asks for money is trying to scam you.

Remember that phone scams often use spoofing techniques to deliberately falsify the information transmitted to your caller ID display, email, or text message to disguise their identity or make the communication appear official.

Spoofing - is when someone disguises an email address, sender name, phone number, or website URL – often just by changing one letter, symbol, or number to convince you that you are interacting with a trusted source.Criminals count on being able to manipulate you into believing that these spoofed communications are real, which can lead you to download malicious software, send money, or disclose personal, financial, or other sensitive information.

If someone calls, texts or emails you claiming to be a government official, hang up, or delete the message and contact the number listed on that government agency’s official website. Never reveal any personal information unless you’ve confirmed you’re dealing with a legitimate official.

Note: Workers and agents who knock on doors of residences are required to carry official identification and show it upon request, and they may not ask for or accept money.

Steps for Avoiding Post-Disaster Insurance Scams

If you are contacted regarding an insurance claim or policy, don’t give out any personal information or agree to any payment until you can independently verify that the call is legitimate. If someone says they’re from your insurance company, contact your agent or the company directly using the number on your account statement.

Contractors and home improvement companies may also call claiming to be partners with your insurance provider. Never give policy numbers, coverage details, or other personal information out to companies with whom you have not entered into a contract.

Disaster Relief Charity Scams

Everyone should also be aware of scammers posing as representatives of charities seeking donations for disaster relief. There are several steps you can take to project yourself from this type of fraud:

  • Donate to trusted, well-known charities. Always verify a charity’s legitimacy through its official website.
  • Verify all phone numbers for charities. If you’re using text-to-donate, check with the charity to ensure the number is correct before donating.
  • Do not open suspicious emails. Do not click on any links or open any attachments. Scammers will use phishing attaches to spread malware.
  • Verify information in social media posts. Crowd-funding websites often host individual requests for help, but they are not always vetted.

To report suspected fraud, call the FEMA Disaster Fraud Hotline toll free at 1-866-720-5721. If you need to report other fraudulent activities during or following a natural disaster, please notify FEMA at 1-866-720-5721 or disaster@leo.gov.

Phone ScamsFinancial ScamsFraud PreventingNatural DisasterHurricane