How to make sure it’s really FEMA you’re talking to

Local News

In the wake of heavy flooding this spring, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, is in South Dakota with five disaster recovery centers in Sioux Falls, Yankton, Pine Ridge, Rosebud and Cheyenne River.

Some representatives from the Federal Emergency Management Agency are also out in the community checking on homes. But not everyone is who they say they are. 

Yankton County Emergency Manager Paul Scherschligt heard from the sheriff and a FEMA team that there was a problem.

“Somebody had come by and said that they were from FEMA, and they were asking for social security number,” Scherschligt said. “The people chased them away if you will and nothing happened.”

A real FEMA representative will have a badge.

“If someone comes to a home, or calls someone, and says he or she is representing FEMA in person, they should always show up with a FEMA identification badge,” FEMA spokesperson Pam Saulsby said. “It has their name, it has their picture on it, it clearly associates them as being an employee of FEMA. A hat and a shirt alone just won’t do.”

“Our big thing is right now is if they’re FEMA, they will have a dark blue vest or a shirt with a FEMA logo on it, but the most important thing is that they have a I.D. card with a photo, and it says FEMA on it,” Scherschligt said. “They should match: the photo and the person carrying it.”

To be eligible for disaster assistance, you have to register with FEMA. That can happen online at disasterassistance.gov, over the phone at 1-800-621-FEMA, with the FEMA app or at a disaster recovery center.

“They are staffed by FEMA employees as well as members from the Small Business Administration,” Saulsby said. “Lots of other organizations are housed in our centers as well, the Department of Labor has a representative there, various state organizations.”

You do need to provide a social security number and banking information to register with FEMA, but you should not give these out for a home inspection.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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