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Scammers posing as FEMA employees contacting relatives of COVID-19 victims

FEMA is offering funeral reimbursement funds for relatives of COVID-19 victims.
FEMA is offering funeral reimbursement funds for relatives of COVID-19 victims.(Getty Images)
Published: May. 3, 2021 at 1:36 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WJRT) - Survivors who lost loved ones to COVID-19 are warned to beware of a scam involving the new FEMA death benefit.

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said scammers are reaching out to survivors of COVID-19 victims and offering help with registering for a FEMA program, which offers reimbursement for funeral expenses.

Nessel said the FEMA funeral benefits are legitimate, but the agency is not contacting anyone directly to offer funds before they apply. Scammers who offer to sign up families for the financial benefits on behalf of FEMA likely are trying to steal personal information, which could turn into identity theft.

FEMA only will contact survivors about the COVID-19 death benefit after an application for funds has been filed. Nobody needs to pay anything up front to receive FEMA funeral benefit reimbursement.

“I’ll say it again: bad actors will do whatever it takes to make a quick buck or steal your personal information and that includes taking advantage of your grief,” Nessel said. “FEMA will not contact you until you have called their agency or applied for assistance. Anyone who contacts you unsolicited and claims to be a government employee or from FEMA is a scammer.”

She advises anyone who receives an unsolicited call asking for personal financial information about themselves or a dead relative to hang up immediately.

Anyone who receives a phone call they suspect to be a scam should avoid giving out personal information and hang up immediately. Scam calls claiming to be from FEMA can be reported to the agency at 1-800-621-3362 or the National Center for Fraud Hotline at 1-866-720-5721.

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