Scammers are combing obituaries for new victims

By Greg Collier

As we have discussed before, if you’ve lost a loved one to COVID-19, you could be eligible to have part or all of the funeral expenses paid for under FEMA’s American Rescue Plan. Under the plan you could be reimbursed up to $9,000 for funeral expenses. As you can probably guess, this has led scammers to try to take advantage of the program. In order to accomplish that, scammers need not only the information of the deceased, but the information from the surviving family members as well.

The way scammers achieve this is by posing as FEMA agents or the organization itself. Scammers will send out robocalls, emails and text messages posing as FEMA asking victims to contact them. Any contact information the victims are given does not go to FEMA but to the scammers instead. The victims will not only be asked for personal information concerning themselves and the deceased., but they may be asked for an upfront payment disguised as a ‘processing fee’. It’s already been documented that scammers have tried to obtain the death certificates of COVID-19 victims so they can try to claim the program money for themselves.

According to the Better Business Bureau, scammers are even combing the local obituaries to get as much information about the deceased and their families as possible. However, this scam does have its drawbacks if you know a couple of items of information. Government agencies like FEMA very rarely initiate first contact, and if they do, they will do so through traditional channels like postal mail.

If you have lost a loved one to COVID-19 and require financial assistance for funeral expenses, you have our most sincere condolences. If you would like to apply for FEMA’s assistance you can do so at FEMA’s COVID-19 Funeral Assistance webpage.