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Identity thieves targeting FEMA assistance applicants

In the wake of Hurricane Ida
Published: Sep. 21, 2021 at 4:12 PM CDT
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - One woman in Livingston Parish said she was without power for 21 days after Hurricane Ida.

She went to apply for assistance from FEMA but found out someone had already used her information to do it.

“When I went to apply online it told me that I had an account under my information already and when I went to do the ‘forgot user ID’ it told me I didn’t have an account, so I called FEMA and FEMA informed me that someone had typed in under my address already,” she said.

The woman wants to remain anonymous because she said she is a victim of identity theft.

“It was kind of devastating because you know, we lost a lot of groceries and our animals had to stay outside for a while because we didn’t have air conditioning or anything in the house, so it was devastating, and we were very angry.”

She let FEMA know her information was being used.

Nathan Custer with the agency said you should never trust your private information with anyone.

The woman said she wishes she could have applied for assistance sooner.

“If we would have done it a couple days after Hurricane Ida came through, we may have been able to stop this, but that’s not the first thing you think about when a hurricane comes through and takes everything, it’s not the first thing you think about, but then you get like us, and we’re stuck with no help and have to rebuild everything on our own.”

Custer adds that if you find yourself a victim of identity theft when it comes to FEMA assistance, contact their FEMA fraud hotline at 866-720-5721 or email StopFEMAFraud@fema.dhs.gov. You can also go to identitytheft.gov.

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