BBB Scam Alert: COVID funeral scams

BBB Scam Alert: COVID funeral scams

A new United States federal program is helping to pay funeral expenses of people who died from COVID-19. Unfortunately, scammers are using this as a chance to steal personal information from bereaved family members.

You get a call, email or text message from someone who claims to be from the Federal Emergency Management Agency or another government agency. The scammer is allegedly reaching out as part of the official COVID-19 Funeral Assistance program.

This “government official” claims you qualify for financial assistance. But first they need information to “register” you for the program. Scammers may ask for the name, birth date and Social Security number of a deceased family member. Sharing this information can lead to identity theft. You can read more on this topic with this article from AARP at

Not all scammers impersonating FEMA are capitalizing on the funeral program. In another version of this scam, con artists claim to be FEMA representatives following up on your COVID-19 vaccine. This is another ploy to get personal information.

“I was called by a man who said he was ‘FEMA,’” reported one person to Scam Tracker. “He wanted me to give him my Social Security number. He claimed I did not fill out all the paperwork when I got vaccinated.”

Stay calm. No matter what scammers claim, you don’t need to take immediate action. The real version of the FEMA program has no deadline to apply. Also, no cap on funding has been set, so funds are not going to run out.

Be wary of out-of-the-blue calls, emails or text message claiming to be from the government. In general the government will not contact you using these methods unless you granted permission. This FEMA program is no exception. They will not contact you unless you called the agency beforehand or applied for funeral assistance.

Think something seems suspicious? Reach out to the agency directly. If you doubt a FEMA representative is legitimate, hang up the phone or stop emailing, then report the suspicious calls or messages. Call the FEMA Helpline at 800-621-3362 or the National Center for Disaster Fraud Hotline at 866-720-5721. You also may contact local police.

Check for look-alikes. Research to see if the government agency or organization that contacted you actually exists. Scammers often make up names of agencies and/or grants.

Do not pay any money for a "free" government grant or program. It is not really free if there is a fee involved. A real government agency will not ask for an advanced processing fee. Instead, find out if the agency is legitimate by checking

You can learn more about FEMA’s COVID-19 funeral-assistance program and the scams associated with it at Find more information about scams related to the coronavirus at

If you’ve spotted a scam (whether or not you’ve lost money), report it to Your report can help others avoid falling victim to scams.

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