Families of COVID-19 victims targeted in funeral expenses scam

Crime

WASHINGTON (WWLP)– The Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, is offering reimbursement up to $9,000 for COVID-19 related funeral expenses incurred after January 20, 2020. Unfortunately, thieves are using this opportunity to create scams offering to help with recovering funeral expenses. FEMA has issued a “Fraud Alert” notice announcing that scammers have been reaching out to people who suffered a loss during the pandemic and offering to register them for funeral assistance.

FEMA and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) are offering guidance when it comes to recognizing one of these scams.

  • FEMA will not contact you until you have called FEMA or have applied for assistance. Anyone who contacts you out of the blue and claims to be a federal employee or from FEMA is a scammer.
  • The government won’t ask you to pay anything to get this financial help. Anyone who does is a scammer.
  • The government won’t call, text, email, or contact you on social media and ask for your Social Security, bank account, or credit card number. Anyone who does is a scammer.
  • Don’t give your own or your deceased loved one’s personal or financial information to anyone who contacts you out of the blue. Anyone who does that and asks for that information is a scammer.

Consumers who receive unsolicited telephone calls, emails or text messages seeking personal information from anyone claiming to be a federal employee, from FEMA or a funeral home should hang up and report it to the FEMA Helpline at 800-621-3362; the National Center for Fraud Hotline at 866-720-5721; or local law enforcement. FEMA will not contact anyone unless that person has called first or has applied for assistance after April 12. 

Information on eligibility and how to apply for funeral assistance is available through the FEMA website, or calling the COVID-19 Funeral Assistance Line: 844-684-6333 | TTY: 800-462-7585, Monday-Friday from 9am-9pm Eastern Time.

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