Be Alert to Fraud After a Disaster


As recovery efforts continue in San Diego County following the January 2024 Storm, the state continues to proactively work with its partners to support, rebuild and aid in the recovery process. In particular, those living in San Diego may be eligible for repairs or replacement of damaged property and cover transportation, childcare, and medical and dental expenses (online disaster recovery resources).  

However, oftentimes after emergencies, unscrupulous actors take advantage of survivors. The California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) would like to alert disaster survivors that con artists and criminals may try to obtain money or steal personal information through fraud or identity theft after a disaster.  

In some cases, thieves try to apply for federal assistance using names, addresses and Social Security numbers they have stolen from survivors. Through the federal disaster assistance program, impacted Californians can apply for aid for disaster-declared areas.  

Protect Yourself 

  • Federal Disaster Survivor Assistance teams, housing inspectors and other officials are working in areas impacted by the storms. They carry official identification badges with photo IDs. Federal representatives never charge applicants for disaster assistance, inspections or help in filling out applications. If you suspect fraud, make sure to check their identification. 
  • Don’t believe anyone who promises a disaster grant in return for payment. 
  • Be wary of unexpected phone calls or visits to your home from people claiming to be federal housing inspectors or people claiming they work for Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). FEMA representatives will have a photo-ID badge and your federal application number. 
  • Don’t give your banking information to a person claiming to be a federal housing inspector. Federal inspectors are never authorized to collect your personal financial information. 


What to Know 

  • If a federal inspector comes to your home and you did not submit an application for assistance, your information may have been used without your knowledge to create a federal disaster assistance application. 
  • If so, please inform the inspector that you did not apply for federal assistance so they can submit a request to stop further processing of the application. 
  • If you did not apply for assistance, but receive a letter from FEMA, please call the FEMA Helpline at 800-621-3362 to alert staff and/or the Disaster Fraud Helpline at 866-720-5721 to report the fraudulent incident. The helpline will submit a request to stop any further processing of that application. 
  • If you do wish to apply for federal assistance after stopping an application made in your name without your knowledge, the Helpline will assist you in creating a new application. 


If You Suspect Fraud