By Suzanne Potter
This story was originally published by Public News Service.
CARSON CITY — Did you know the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has a program to reimburse funeral expenses up to $9,000 when someone dies of COVID-19? Now, some scammers are trying to take advantage of grieving families.
To prevent fraud, you have to apply over the phone, not online.
Veronica Verde, external affairs officer for FEMA Region 9, said applicants must prove the loved one died after Jan. 20, 2020, with COVID-19 as the likely cause of death.
“You must provide a copy of the death certificate, proof of funeral expenses incurred, and proof of funeral assistance received from any other source,” Verde outlined.
Any monies you received, from sources such as a GoFundMe account, will be deducted from the benefit amount. To qualify, the person must have died on American soil.
You will also have to give the Social Security number and date of birth for yourself and the deceased. For more information, go to the FEMA COVID funeral assistance website. To apply, call 844-684-6333.
FEMA reports scammers have been checking obituaries and cold-calling relatives of people who died of COVID, offering to complete the registration process for you.
Verde recommended if you are contacted out of the blue, hang up and call FEMA directly.
“FEMA will not contact you until you call or apply for assistance,” Verde explained. “FEMA is not going to ask you to pay anything to get this benefit. So please do not give out any information about yourself or your loved ones or anyone who might contact you.”
You can report a scammer to FEMA or to the Federal Trade Commission at ReportFraud.ftc.gov.