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Management Alert - FEMA Must Take Steps to Stop Those Attempting to Profit from Disaster Survivors Seeking Assistance in Puerto Rico

Executive Summary

This is a Department of Homeland Security, Office of Inspector General management alert to make the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and its partners aware of active attempts — observed during our ongoing disaster oversight work in Puerto Rico — to profit from disaster survivors seeking FEMA assistance. We observed posted notices featuring a logo similar to FEMA’s, advertising paid services to complete the FEMA disaster assistance application on behalf of survivors. These services appear to be associated with FEMA, but actually are not, and demand a fee for services FEMA provides at no cost.

To complete the disaster assistance application forms, the paid service requires disaster survivors to provide their Personally Identifiable Information (PII) — such as their social security number, household annual income, and bank account numbers — to a third party, which exposes survivors to unnecessary risks.

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