The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) urge Illinois residents affected by recent severe storms, straight-line winds and tornadoes to be alert for potential fraud and to keep these points in mind:
• A FEMA inspector will first contact you by phone to arrange a visit to your damaged home or apartment to determine if you have uninsured, eligible losses. A FEMA inspector will always have an official badge visible during the inspection. Ask to see the badge before allowing him/her to enter your home.
• FEMA will not contact you requesting your personal information to process a prepaid credit card.
• FEMA does not charge for information that it gives out. Apply free online at www.DisasterAssistance.gov or call 1-800-621-3362 (TTY 1-800-462-7585).
• FEMA does not send out text messages asking recipients to call fee-based telephone numbers. The toll-free numbers above are used for all contact with FEMA, including applying and follow-up.
• FEMA and the U.S. Small Business Administration do not charge fees for information regarding filling out the SBA loan applications. Free assistance is available by calling SBA’s toll-free number, 1-800-659-2955 (TTY 1-800-877-8339).
Anyone with knowledge of fraud, waste or abuse may call the FEMA Fraud Hotline at 1-800-323-8603. You may also send an email to DHSOIGHotline@dhs.gov. Complaints may also be made via the FEMA Helpline at 1-800-621-3362 (TTY 1-800-462-7585) or with state or local law enforcement officials or consumer agencies.
FEMA’s mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.