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FEMA warns scammers may target storm victims

1 month 3 weeks 3 days ago Wednesday, February 24 2021 Feb 24, 2021 February 24, 2021 8:34 PM February 24, 2021 in News - Local

Last week's winter storm left many Valley residents without power and water issues they are still trying to overcome. 

But help is available to those who qualify. 

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) spokesman's Albert Pillot said people can apply for assistance through FEMA by visiting www.disasterassistance.gov.

Pillot said FEMA is currently accepting applications for people who sustained damage during the winter storms. 

"We require that you always call your insurance first, then you can still apply with FEMA," Pilot said. "For families that do not have any insurance can always still apply for FEMA."

But now scammers are also working to take advantage of people hoping to get help.

Interim President of the Better Business Bureau for the South Texas Region Hilda Martinez said FEMA will not contact you by phone, text or email. 

"So you need to be very cautious of what kind of information you're giving out over the phone," Martinez said.

She said reports of phone calls from people claiming to be from FEMA have already been reported in the Valley.

Martinez said oftentimes the call will say you're eligible to receive $500 worth of reimbursement for food loss or hotel stays. She said scammers are after your personal information. 

"They are asking for personal information, for example your social security," Martinez said. "Who your homeowners insurance [provider] is...wanting to know how much your total income you have."

Martinez said residents should never give out personal information to someone they do not know.

For more information or to see if you qualify for financial assistance from FEMA visit www.disasterassistance.gov or call 1-800-621-3362.

If you feel like you may have been a victim of a FEMA scam you can reach out to the Better Business Bureau for help by calling (956) 969-1101 or visit www.BBB.org.

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