The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and Virgin Islands Territorial Emergency Management Agency (VITEMA) remind hurricane survivors that scam artists could be at work in the U.S. Virgin Islands, targeting survivors of hurricanes Irma and Maria.
Here are a few guidelines to protect against disaster fraud:
FEMA and other federal workers do not ask for, or accept, money. They will never charge applicants for disaster assistance, home inspections, or help filling out applications. Stay alert for false promises to speed up the insurance, disaster assistance, or building permit process – and do not give anyone money for such assistance.
If someone approaches you and says they are representing the Emergency Home Repairs VI program, ask to see identification. The Virgin Islands Housing Finance Authority (VIHFA), which administers the Emergency Home Repairs VI program, assigns inspections of homes after survivors register with the program. These inspectors will identify themselves by showing their Emergency Home Repairs VI Badge with the VIHFA logo, inspector name and photo.
The case managers from Emergency Home Repairs VI program will schedule an appointment time for the inspection. Inspectors will not show up to the residence unless the case manager has called to confirm the appointment with the homeowner.
If there is a question about the inspection, call Emergency Home Repairs VI at 844-813-9191.
VIHFA inspectors will not ask for money. The repairs are paid through FEMA’s Public Assistance program. They will already have your registration information.
If approached via phone, email or in person by someone claiming to represent a charity helping disaster survivors, ask for the charity’s exact name, street address, phone number and Web address, then contact the charity directly and confirm that the person asking for funds is an employee or volunteer.
Always take steps to ensure the charity is legitimate before giving money, and request a receipt with the charity’s name, street address, phone number and Web address (if applicable). Legitimate nonprofit agencies routinely provide receipts for tax purposes.
If unsure or uncomfortable with anyone who is encountered claiming to be an emergency management official or charity worker, do not give out personal information and then report the incident.
If you suspect fraud, contact the National Center for Disaster Fraud’s hotline at 866-720-5721 or email the organization at firstname.lastname@example.org. Learn more about the National Center for Disaster Fraud at www.justice.gov/disaster-fraud.
People may also report any suspicious activity to the Virgin Islands Police Department.