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Scam warning from state officials

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BATON ROUGE, La., (KNOE 8 News) - State and federal recovery officials are urging Louisiana residents affected by Hurricane Isaac to watch for and report any suspicious activity or potential fraud.

As the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) continues to designate parishes eligible for federal and state disaster assistance, more scam artists, identity thieves and other criminals may attempt to prey on vulnerable survivors. Since the recovery effort began, authorities have received isolated reports of unscrupulous individuals trying to do just that. 

The most common post-disaster fraud practices include phony housing inspectors, fraudulent building contractors, bogus pleas for disaster donations and fake offers of state or federal aid.

Survivors should also keep in mind that federal and state workers never ask for or accept money. There is no fee required to apply for or to get disaster assistance from FEMA.

Survivors should also beware of individuals claiming to be associated with FEMA or the U.S. Small Business Administration who say they have the survivor's email address and then try to get the person to reveal bank account or Social Security numbers, leading to theft of identity.

"It's important to remember that scam attempts can be made over the phone, by mail or email, or in person," said Federal Coordinating officer Mike Hall of FEMA. "Sadly, there seems to be no end to the inventiveness of these con artists. We urge Louisianians to remain alert, ask questions and require identification when someone claims to represent a government agency."      

Those who suspect fraud should call the FEMA Disaster Fraud Hotline at 1-866-720-5721.

Complaints may also be made to local authorities or through the Louisiana Attorney General's office at 1-800-351-4889 or online at www.ag.state.la.us.

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