A federal agency is warning residents to be on guard after a potentially dangerous door-to-door scam has been reported in the Hudson Valley.

Hudson Valley homeowners should think twice before answering the door to strangers. Recently, solicitors allegedly masquerading as federal officials have been spotted targeting houses in the Hudson Valley.

People claiming to be FEMA agents have been knocking on doors and leaving flyers in mailboxes. According to social media reports, these solicitors are wearing jackets that say FEMA and appear to be legitimate. According to a representative from FEMA, Disaster Survivor Assistance Teams do, in fact, go door to door in impacted communities and can hand out flyers. It's important, however, to make sure the person knocking on your door is an actual agent.

A warning on the FEMA website shows that people pretending to be agents is, unfortunately, a common scam in areas that have experienced recent flooding. The agency warns, "When a disaster strikes, unscrupulous people may try to take advantage of survivors by posing as official disaster-aid workers trying to help survivors complete their applications."

FEMA says there are some warning signs that will tell you that you're dealing with a scammer. Representatives will never ask for money, nor will they charge survivors for applying for disaster assistance, inspections or help in completing applications. Another important thing to know is that the agency will never ask for your social security number unless you're registering over the phone, on the disasterassistance.gov website, using their mobile app, registering at a Disaster Recovery Center or registering with a Disaster Survivor Assistance team. All FEMA representatives carry photo IDs and should show them to you when they arrive for a scheduled appointment.

FEMA never hires or endorses contractors to fix property damage. Their inspectors' only job is to verify the damage. If a solicitor claims to be a contractor sent by FEMA, it's most certainly a scam.

Authorities say that anyone who is visited by an unsolicited FEMA representative should immediately call the local police. FEMA has set up its own fraud hotline that you can also call for assistance at 866 720-5721.

The following information has been supplied by FEMA to clarify what their inspectors do, and what you can expect if they visit your property:

FEMA is required to verify the reported losses to determine eligibility for assistance. Each application is treated individually. If a FEMA inspection is required, the inspector will contact you within 14 days. Please make sure that the contact information on your application is correct and return the inspector’s call promptly to expedite your claim. Remember that the inspector may contact you via phone call, text message, or email and that the call may come from an unfamiliar area code. If you do not hear from the inspector within 14 days, call the FEMA Helpline at 800-621-3362 or visit the nearest Disaster Recovery Center to check on the status of your application. Due to COVID, FEMA inspectors are mostly doing virtual or exterior inspections at this time, and usually will not be going into your home. The safety of our staff and disaster survivors is our top priority. This does not change the quality of inspection given or affect the assistance you may receive – we just want to keep everyone safe.

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