FEMA warns of scammers taking advantage of people seeking COVID-19 funeral assistance

Scam Alerts

FILE – In this July 21, 2020, file photo, Darryl Hutchinson, facing camera, is hugged by a relative during a funeral service for Lydia Nunez, who was Hutchinson’s cousin at the Metropolitan Baptist Church in Los Angeles. Nunez died from COVID-19. Southern California funeral homes are turning away bereaved families because they’re running out of space for the bodies piling up during an unrelenting coronavirus surge. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, File)

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The Federal Emergency Management Agency plans to help families burdened with funeral costs for loved ones who died of COVID-19. The applications for these funds have not even opened yet and scammers are already trying to contact people.

According to FEMA, people are attempting fraud by reaching out to families to “register” them for funeral assistance. The agency says they have not sent any notifications like this to people and will not be contacting people before they register.

FEMA says anyone who suspects they may have received a fraudulent call can contact the FEMA Helpline at 800-621-3362 or the National Center for Fraud Hotline at 866-720-5721.

FEMA instead will be taking applications from people starting Monday. Interested people can call their COVID-19 Funeral Assistance Line Number at 844-684-6333 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Central Time.

Assistance will be available for funerals held for someone who died of COVID-19 in the United States after January 20, 2020. The applicant must be a U.S. citizen, non-citizen national, or qualified alien but the deceased does not have to meet any of these qualifications.

Applicants should have an official death certificate, funeral expense documents and proof of other funds available in order to order to streamline the application process.

Once FEMA decides to award funds the recipient can choose between direct deposit or a mailed check.

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