Criminals target Covid’s utility program, which pays $ 9,000 in funeral expenses for victims

Dana Neely | Stone | Getty Images

Criminals are targeting a new federal program that will pay up to $ 9,000 in funeral expenses for a loved one who died of Covid-19, the Federal Trade Commission said Tuesday.

The Covid-19 Funeral Assistance program overseen by the Federal Emergency Management Agency opened to applicants on Monday. Individuals struggled to get through due to the high volume, officials said.

According to the FTC, scammers connect with people, impersonate government agents, and offer to register them for assistance.

“FEMA has not sent any such notifications and we do not contact people until they register for assistance,” read a fraud notice posted on FEMA’s website.

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About 563,000 people have died of Covid-19 in the United States, according to Johns Hopkins University.

According to the FTC, criminals can request payment to access financial aid.

You can also request sensitive personal or financial information such as social security, bank account, or credit card numbers from potential victims or a deceased relative.

The government program is aimed at those who have incurred funeral expenses for a loved one who died of Covid-19 after January 20, 2020.

The program was funded through two previous rounds of government aid to Covid, a $ 900 billion move in December and the US $ 1.9 trillion rescue plan last month.

Eligible expenses include: caskets or urns, gravesites, tombstones, official services, and costs of cremation or internment. Individuals can receive up to $ 9,000 per funeral with a maximum of $ 35,500 per application per state.

There is no income limit for applying for funds. Documentation such as a death certificate and receipts are required.

According to FEMA, the program was plagued by technical problems due to the initially high volume of calls. Individuals must apply over the phone.

“The call center received thousands of calls this morning causing some technical problems,” the agency said on Monday.

“We ask applicants to be patient as we work to fix these issues and have all important documents ready when they call,” he added.

There is currently no application deadline.

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