Losing someone to COVID-19 is tragic enough. But now scammers have stooped to a new low, trying to take advantage of grieving families looking for financial help from FEMA to cover burial costs.
From the Better Business Bureau:
The Better Business Bureau Serving Central & South Alabama is warning consumers about a new scam - and this one is very tragic. A shameful breed of scammers is already trying to take advantage of families looking for financial help from a new government program that offers up to $9,000 to help pay for funerals of COVID-19 victims.
FEMA is offering grants to families for burial costs of loved ones lost to COVID-19 after January 20, 2020. Scammers were ahead of them even before the program officially launched.
First of all, let's talk about who is eligible for this program?
The person applying must be the individual who incurred the funeral expenses .
If you lost a loved one to COVID1-19 and are seeking the $9,000 in federal funds to cover the funeral expenses, call FEMA's toll-free Funeral Assistance Line 844-684-6333. Calls are taken weekdays from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
How does this scam work?
Fraudsters are targeting potential applicants in schemes intended to steal their personal data. FEMA issued a warning reporting that scammers are reaching out to people and offering to register them for the financial assistance program. These scammers are trying to get some type of payment for the grant. They could also be phishing for your personal information to steal your identity or the $9,00 grant itself.
What are some tips grieving families should know?
FEMA will not contact people unless they have called the agency beforehand and applied for funeral assistance.
Do not disclose information such as the name, birth date, Social Security number of any deceased family member to anyone in an unsolicited phone call or email claiming to be from FEMA.
If you doubt a FEMA representative is legitimate, hang up the phone or stop emailing.
What can a family member do if they feel like they have been scammed?
Report the incident to the FEMA hotline at 866-720-5721. the Federal Trade Commission at ReportFraud.FTC.gov, state and local agencies and BBB.org/Scamtracker. The BBB can direct you to all of these resources
(Photo: Getty Images)