Skip to main content

Government imposters may have hit a new low with a scheme that targets the grieving survivors of people who died of COVID-19 by offering them help paying for their loved one’s funeral expenses.

A real government relief program will pay up to $9,000 for funeral expenses that people have paid since January 20, 2020 for loved ones who died of COVID-19. Survivors can apply for benefits by contacting the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) at 844-684-6333. The number is toll-free and multi-lingual services are available.

The program is open to American citizens, nationals of U.S. territories, and non-citizens legally admitted to the United States, regardless of income. If you apply, you’ll need to show documents including receipts for your expenses and a death certificate that says the death happened in the United States or its territories and was likely caused by COVID-19.

The program just began yesterday, but even before it started, FEMA said it had reports of scammers contacting people and “offering” to register them for assistance.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • FEMA will not contact you until you have called FEMA or have applied for assistance. Anyone who contacts you out of the blue and claims to be a federal employee or from FEMA is a scammer.
  • The government won’t ask you to pay anything to get this financial help. Anyone who does is a scammer.
  • The government won’t call, text, email, or contact you on social media and ask for your Social Security, bank account, or credit card number. Anyone who does is a scammer.
  • Don’t give your own or your deceased loved one’s personal or financial information to anyone who contacts you out of the blue. Anyone who does that and asks for that information is a scammer.

FEMA’s Funeral Assistance FAQs have information about the documents you need to apply for funeral expenses. The FAQs also tell you what to do if the death certificate didn’t identify COVID-19 as the likely cause of death, as sometimes happened early in the pandemic.

If you doubt a caller claiming to be from FEMA is telling the truth, hang up and report it to the FEMA Helpline at 800-621-3362 or the National Center for Fraud Hotline at 866-720-5721. Tell us too, at ReportFraud.ftc.gov.

5 Comments


It is your choice whether to submit a comment. If you do, you must create a user name, or we will not post your comment. The Federal Trade Commission Act authorizes this information collection for purposes of managing online comments. Comments and user names are part of the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) public records system, and user names also are part of the FTC’s computer user records system. We may routinely use these records as described in the FTC’s Privacy Act system notices. For more information on how the FTC handles information that we collect, please read our privacy policy.

The purpose of this blog and its comments section is to inform readers about Federal Trade Commission activity, and share information to help them avoid, report, and recover from fraud, scams, and bad business practices. Your thoughts, ideas, and concerns are welcome, and we encourage comments. But keep in mind, this is a moderated blog. We review all comments before they are posted, and we won’t post comments that don’t comply with our commenting policy. We expect commenters to treat each other and the blog writers with respect.

  • We won’t post off-topic comments, repeated identical comments, or comments that include sales pitches or promotions.
  • We won’t post comments that include vulgar messages, personal attacks by name, or offensive terms that target specific people or groups.
  • We won’t post threats, defamatory statements, or suggestions or encouragement of illegal activity.
  • We won’t post comments that include personal information, like Social Security numbers, account numbers, home addresses, and email addresses. To file a detailed report about a scam, go to ReportFraud.ftc.gov.

We don't edit comments to remove objectionable content, so please ensure that your comment contains none of the above. The comments posted on this blog become part of the public domain. To protect your privacy and the privacy of other people, please do not include personal information. Opinions in comments that appear in this blog belong to the individuals who expressed them. They do not belong to or represent views of the Federal Trade Commission.

Isha
April 13, 2021
This is so sad what people does however im pleases that you inform me of these things.
Mary Ann
April 15, 2021
Someone call me from a (775)-624-3820 on 4/13/21 and ask me for my information about the covid-19 funeral Assistance, so I will like to know if this one of your number.
FTC Staff
April 15, 2021

In reply to by Mary Ann

No, the FTC will not call you about the FEMA funeral assistance.

FEMA will not call you first - they might call you back if you called and started an application, but they will not call you first.  Don't give information to anyone who calls and pretends to offer funeral assistance.

To get funeral assistance, call FEMA at 844-684-6333. They are open 9 am to 9 pm Eastern time. There is no deadline to apply. If you get a busy signal when you call, please call again.

Sab
April 19, 2021
A quick question about the program, it's open to *all* U.S. citizens, or only the U.S. citizens that live in the U.S. or in U.S. territories? There are over 300,000 U.S. citizens living in the country I live in, the application requirements contradict themselves.
FTC Staff
April 19, 2021

In reply to by Sab

The program is open to American citizens, nationals of U.S. territories, and non-citizens legally admitted to the United States, regardless of income. If you apply, you’ll need to show documents including receipts for your expenses and a death certificate that says the death happened in the United States or its territories and was likely caused by COVID-19. Read FEMA’s Funeral Assistance FAQs to learn more.