FEMA alerts residents of potential fraud

Published On: Jul 12 2012 09:09:16 PM EDT   Updated On: Jul 12 2012 09:28:14 PM EDT
FEMA
BRADFORD COUNTY, Fla. -

Bradford county residents should be on alert for individuals trying to scam those seeking assistance following the recent severe storms and flooding.

FEMA says people are identifying themselves as emergency services, asking if there's any damage they need to look at and asking for personal information.

In Bradford County, there are nearly 200 FEMA applicants following flooding caused by Tropical Storm Debby.

Because of the extreme heat and emotional stress, emergency management officials say storm victims are some of the most vulnerable, and therefore easy prey for scam artists.

"When you are most frustrated, it's really easy to seek out the quick fix. Instant money, instant gratification, instant repairs, instant resolution to your issues," said Michael Heeder with Bradford County Emergency Management.

Thieves aren't just trying the same old tricks, they're becoming more and more creative when it comes to taking you and your money for a ride.

"Be aware of contractors trying to get them to sign a contract and pay money up front. Be aware of people coming out saying you're eligible for free federal funding but you have to pay a fee ahead in order to qualify for it," Heeder said.

If you are approached by someone identifying themselves as FEMA, always check a representatives photo I.D. and credentials. Additionally, don't divulge any personal information or pay for any so-called "fees."

Heeder said when in doubt, call authorities.