Are you interested in learning how to apply for federal assistance to help cover financial losses from Hurricane Sandy?
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) employees will teach Essex County residents how to apply for disaster assistance at a workshop tonight at 7pm, in the Council Chambers of the municipal building, 205 Claremont Avenue, Montclair.
Can’t make it to the meeting? You can register online, or by calling 1 (800) 621-FEMA (3362). Or head to the Essex County Disaster Recovery Center in Newark to file for assistance and ask questions about your case: Willing Heart Community Center, 555 Dr. Martin Luther King Blvd. It’s open 8am-8pm, seven days a week.
Services may include:
- Guidance regarding disaster recovery
- Clarification of any written correspondence received
- Housing Assistance and Rental Resource information
- Answers to questions, resolution to problems and referrals to agencies that may provide further assistance
- Status of applications being processed by FEMA
- SBA program information if there is a SBA Representative at the Disaster Recovery Center site
FEMA is also trying to get the word out that the widespread rumor that FEMA is handing out $300 food vouchers is incorrect. And the agency is reminding residents there’s never a fee to apply for FEMA disaster relief, receive assistance, or for property damage inspections. Watch out for fraudsters who promise you money, especially if they ask for an up-front payment.
The IRS is also warning consumers of possible scams:
Scam artists can use a variety of tactics. Some scammers operating bogus charities may contact people by telephone to solicit money or financial information. They may even directly contact disaster victims and claim to be working for or on behalf of the IRS to help the victims file casualty loss claims and get tax refunds. They may attempt to get personal financial information or Social Security numbers that can be used to steal the victims’ identities or financial resources.
Bogus websites may solicit funds for disaster victims. Such fraudulent sites frequently mimic the sites of, or use names similar to, legitimate charities, or claim to be affiliated with legitimate charities, in order to persuade members of the public to send money or provide personal financial information that can be used to steal identities or financial resources. Additionally, scammers often send e-mail that steers the recipient to bogus websites that sound as though they are affiliated with legitimate charitable causes.
Taxpayers suspecting disaster-related frauds should visit IRS.gov and search for the keywords “Report Phishing.”