Chief Financial Officer (CFO) and State Fire Marshal Jimmy Patronis warned that scammers and crooked contractors are already out, preying on families in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael.
CFO Jimmy Patronis said, “I can’t say this enough: Hurricane Michael was catastrophic. I’ve already heard of crooked contractors who are asking for cash up front and pressuring some to sign an assignment of benefits contract. Check with your insurance agent, insurance company, or call my office before you sign anything. Storms bring out the best in people, but unfortunately, they bring out the worst in some. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
“I’ll keep saying it: anyone who tries to scam this community in the wake of Hurricane Michael will be found by my Disaster Fraud Action Strike Teams, who are already have boots on the ground.”
Tips to Spot and Stop Post-Storm Fraud
- Don’t Sign Anything. Call your insurance agent, insurance company, or CFO Patronis’ Insurance Consumer Helpline (1-877-MY-FL-CFO) before you sign anything, including assignment of benefits agreements.
- Too Good, to Be True? It Probably is. If an offer sounds too good, it most likely is. Don’t deal with anyone who demands cash up front.
- Beware of Crooked Contractors. Beware of a contractor or restoration professional who: offered to waive or discount your insurance deductible; has received payment and has failed to provide any repairs; offered to provide repairs at a cash-only discounted rate and has failed to provide repairs; or pressured you to sign an assignment of benefit (AOB) and has failed to provide any repairs to your home or stopped responding to your contact attempts
- Verify. Verify the identity of individuals claiming to represent government and relief agencies or insurance companies. Official personnel should display ID badges, should provide identification without hesitation. If you suspect that someone is impersonating official personnel, contact the local police department or sheriff’s office immediately.
- Beware of Door-to-Door. Imposters often go door-to-door claiming to be FEMA representatives, asking for money to assist with the filing of federal flood claims. FEMA does not charge for this service and does not go door-to-door in this capacity.
- Beware of Robocalls. Imposters claiming to represent FEMA typically call consumers and ask them to hang up and dial a 1-800 number to make an insurance payment ASAP to prevent policy cancellations.
- Check a License. If you have damage to your home or vehicle, contact your insurance company immediately. Beware of fly-by-night repair businesses and hire only licensed professionals. If you have access to internet, verify a contractor’s license at the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation’s website – MyFloridaLicense.com.
- Check Liability Insurance. Ensure contractors carry proper liability and workers’ compensation insurance by checking the Department’s Division of Workers’ Compensation database.
CFO Jimmy Patronis’ Insurance Consumer Helpline (1-877-MY-FL-CFO) is available to assist home and business owners with all insurance-related questions and concerns. Reports of suspected fraud can be reported via the Helpline.