FEMA warns Marshall Fire survivors not to fall victim to scams

FEMA said thieves will try to apply for federal assistance using names, addresses and Social Security numbers they’ve stolen from survivors.

BOULDER COUNTY, Colo. — The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is warning people affected by the Marshall Fire not to fall victim to con artists who want to trick them into providing money or personal information. 

FEMA said in a release that thieves will try to apply for federal assistance using names, addresses and Social Security numbers they’ve stolen from survivors. 

FEMA Disaster Survivor Assistance teams, housing inspectors and other officials working in areas impacted by the Marshall Fire carry official photo ID badges, the release said. FEMA and U.S. Small Business Administration representatives never charge applicants for disaster assistance, inspections or help filling out applications, and the agency said you shouldn’t believe anyone who promises a disaster grant in return for payment. 

Residents should also be alert when receiving unexpected phone calls or visits to their property from people claiming to work for FEMA. Actual FEMA representatives will carry a photo ID and a FEMA application number, and they should be asked to provide them. 

FEMA also warns against giving banking information to someone claiming to be a housing inspector, as FEMA inspectors are never authorized to collect that information. 

The release said if a FEMA housing inspector contacts you or comes to your property and you did not submit a FEMA application, your information may have been used without your knowledge to fill one out. 

FEMA said in that case, you should tell the inspector that you did not apply for federal assistance so they can submit a request to stop the application from being processed any further. 

Anyone who receives a letter from FEMA but did not apply for assistance should contact the agency’s helpline at 800-621-3362.

If you believe you’re the victim of a scam, you should report it immediately to local law enforcement or call the Colorado Division of Insurance Consumer Services Team at 303-804-7490 or 800-930-3745. You can file a fraud complaint at [email protected]

Anyone who suspects fraudulent activity involving FEMA can report it to the FEMA Fraud Branch at [email protected] or write to this address:

FEMA Fraud and Internal Investigation Division
400 C St. SW
Suite 7SW-1009
Mail Stop 3005
Washington, DC, 20472-3005

RELATED: ‘Anything to hold on to’: Boulder County homeowners sift through debris

RELATED: Boulder emergency alert system not as useful for families that don’t primarily speak English

SUGGESTED VIDEOS: Wildfires in Colorado 

Shop Women Clothes | Shop Celebrity Approved Women Activewear