After Hurricane Sandy struck we began hearing stories—since confirmed by the police—of criminals dressing up as Red Cross, Con Ed and other workers in order to rob damaged homes. Now FEMA has chimed in to remind New Yorkers to be on guard for FEMA fakers out to make a quick buck.

FEMA had already set up a Hurricane Rumor control site and yesterday they updated it to include a section on those claiming to be "City Assessment Contractors" who are "assessing houses under the New York Rapid Repairs and Sheltering and Temporary Essential Power (STEP)" and demanding payment for services provided immediately. Don't pay them! As the fed explain:

STEP assessments are free of charge. They do not provide money to individuals. STEP is meant to provide temporary measures so storm survivors may shelter-in-place in their homes. Remember, all contractors providing assessments are coordinated through your city/county officials and must provide identification prior to viewing your home. Please contact your local officials for more information about the STEP program.

In addition to being wary of fake contractors, FEMA warns against giving out your bank account or Social Security number to anyone who shows up. The only time you should be providing that number is when you apply for assistance—here for instance. In fact, if somebody shows up in a FEMA jacket or shirt, don't think that is proof of employment—check their ID badge! And if they angrily deny plans to suspend the Constitution during the alien recolonization of Earth, you know they're probably legit, and not flesh-eating lizards from out of space in disguise.