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  • Geebo 8:00 am on June 8, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , funeral expenses, obituaries,   

    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.

  • Geebo 8:00 am on April 21, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , funeral expenses,   

    Was a death certificate stolen for a FEMA scam? 

    Was a death certificate stolen for a FEMA scam?

    By Greg Collier

    Back in February, we discussed how scammers stopped a federal assistance program from being rolled out. As of the time of our previous post, FEMA had not started their funeral assistance program for people who passed away from COVID-19 in 2020. Due to the amount of fraud that was affecting state unemployment systems during the pandemic, FEMA decided to hold back while they came up with a potential solution. Earlier this month, FEMA announced that they would begin processing applications for funeral assistance, and it looks like the scammers may have already started to try to take advantage of the system.

    A woman in Tennessee lost her husband late last year to COVID-19. He was working the frontline as a nurse when he contracted the virus. Even though it’s been a number of months, his widow is still dealing with the loss of her husband. She recently received a call asking if she had sent her husband’s death certificate to Texas. She had not and believes that someone was using her husband’s death certificate to try to apply for FEMA benefits in his name. When this potential scam was first announced we wondered if all it would take to scam FEMA would be a forged or stolen death certificate.

    Unfortunately, there’s not a lot that you can do to protect yourself from this scam. If you ever had the unfortunate experience of arranging a funeral for a loved one and handling their estate, you know that you have to provide a copy of the deceased’s death certificate to a number of different people. The only thing that FEMA seems to be recommending at this point is that if you’ve been scammed you can call FEMA at 800-621-3362.

    Sadly, this again shows that scammers will try to take advantage of any situation no matter how devastating it may be to the victim. When scammers reach a new low like this, we’re both surprised and yet not surprised. Scammers know no bounds of human decency and will try to take advantage of anyone as long as it can make them some money.

  • Geebo 9:00 am on February 26, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , funeral expenses, ,   

    Scams can bring federal programs to their knees 

    Scams can bring federal programs to their knees

    By Greg Collier

    Prior to the start of the pandemic, many of us looked at scammers as minor annoyances. “They might fool a few people, but they’d never be able to fool me.” many of us said. Then when the pandemic happened in full force, scammers were everywhere. Not only did every old scam have a new COVID-19 twist to it, but the scammers were now attacking federal and state governments to the tune of billions of dollars. You may not be fooled by a scammer, but as the unemployment scam showed us, you may not have a choice. Now, a federal relief program has yet to roll out due to the scams that may surround it.

    FEMA has a fund to help pay for funerals for people who were lost in certain disasters. This includes deaths related to COVID-19 for 2020. However, here we are near March 2021 and FEMA has yet to issue any assistant payments for these funeral expenses. With half a million people having passed from COVID-19, FEMA realizes that this could open them to the same amount of fraud that has affected the unemployment system. FEMA is working with the CDC to try to find a way to make sure that these assistant payments get to the people who actually need them.

    All it could take is a forged death certificate for scammers to start trying to collect money from FEMA. And with states reporting deaths in different ways, this could lead to a lot of confusion. The other aspect this scam shares with the unemployment scam is that FEMA will be dealing with a record amount of funeral reimbursement requests since the country has never dealt with this many deaths before due to one single disaster.

    If you’ve ever had to suddenly plan for a loved one’s funeral, you’ll know how expensive funerals can be. Thanks to scammers, more people will be out of more money until more safeguards are put in place to prevent such widespread fraud.

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