Beware fake FEMA disaster app

Just in time for Hurricane Irene, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) on Aug. 26 announced the release of its first official FEMA App mobile application to help people prepare and recover from disasters.

But the announcement came with some confusion resulting from an apparent rogue application also available for free download from the Android market website.

Some Android users downloaded the questionable application, which was titled “FEMA Mobile” that was purported to be from FEMA. Two commenters warned on the FEMA website against downloading the apparent fake application, with one person calling it scamware.


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Another commenter addressed the situation at the official FEMA Android application Web page: “This is the official FEMA App,” the person wrote.

FEMA included a link to the official FEMA App on the FEMA blog.

FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate announced the new FEMA App in a video message on the agency's blog. The new mobile application is available at no charge.

The agency last year developed a mobile version of the FEMA website, but the new FEMA App for Android is the agency’s first mobile application, and will be followed shortly by Blackberry, iPhone and iPad applications, Fugate said.

The new application allows users to obtain preparedness tips, register for FEMA assistance and view a map with locations for disaster recovery centers and shelter. The Android application also has a function in which users can request text message updates from FEMA.

“These are improvements we are doing to give you information you need for your mobile,” Fugate said. “I’m proud to announce that FEMA now has an app for that.”

Fugate did not respond to a tweet asking about the apparently fake FEMA application.

In recent days, as Hurricane Irene approached, FEMA officials have been busy updating their blog, publishing video messages on their website and publishing additional information on Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites.

In a related effort, FEMA is working with the Federal Communications Commission to start a mobile phone emergency message system.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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