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September 5, 2016
Contact: Ashley Carr
(850) 529-4614

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – As Hurricane Hermine recovery efforts continue, Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater and the Department of Financial Services has heard reports of insurance scams occurring in Taylor County. The Department is currently working with Taylor County officials and FDLE to investigate reports of scammers claiming to be Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) officials who are demanding a $150 deposit in exchange for helping consumers file hurricane-related insurance claims. There is no fee to file a FEMA claim and Floridians who encounter this scam should report it by calling the Department’s Consumer Insurance Helpline at 1-877-693-5236. Consumers can also utilize this helpline to get free help with the filing of hurricane-related insurance claims.
“It’s unconscionable to think that someone would lie and cheat their way into profiting off of catastrophe, but unfortunately, it happens,” says CFO Jeff Atwater. “I strongly urge all Floridians to remain vigilant against such scams, and to report all suspicious activity to authorities immediately. My office will thoroughly investigate reports of insurance and financial fraud and will prosecute the offenders to the fullest extent of the law.”
CFO Atwater and the Department of Financial Services investigate acts of insurance and financial fraud in the state of Florida, and the Department’s Division of Investigative and Forensic Services has dispatched a team of fraud investigators to Taylor County to further investigate these reports. While unfortunate, additional suspicious and fraudulent activity is expected following Hurricane Hermine.
Consumers should remain on alert for suspicious activity, and CFO Atwater offers the following consumer protection tips:
• Notify your insurance company as soon as possible. Contact your insurance company directly if you sustained any hurricane-related damage to your home or business.  If you need help locating contact information for your insurance company, click here to access the Office of Insurance Regulation’s directory.
o Be wary of strangers who call on the telephone or who knock on your door asking for personal information. Ask for a telephone number so can you call back to verify that the entity is legitimate; hang up on anyone who refuses to coordinate in providing such information. Government and insurance officials carry official identification information; ask to see it. Do not give out personal information to anyone before verifying their identity.
• During the repair process, obtain the licensing or training credentials of all third-party vendors before signing any work agreements. Beware of fly-by-night repair companies and hire only licensed and reputable people. Utilize the Department of Business and Professional Regulation’s license lookup to ensure all contractors are properly licensed and bonded. Access DBPR’s license lookup here.
o Fully review all documentation you are asked to sign and ask questions to make sure you understand the agreements you are signing. Ask specifically who is responsible for paying the vendor, you as the consumer or your insurance company.
• If considering the assistance of a public insurance adjuster, ask for identification to verify that the adjuster is licensed.  To verify the license of any Florida insurance agent or adjuster, utilize the Department of Financial Service’s licensee search here
o It is important to note that only a licensed public adjuster or a licensed attorney can file an insurance claim on your behalf. Fees can be charged for this service, but fee caps are clearly outlined in Florida law. Click here for more information about public adjuster fees.
• If you suspect fraud or suspicious activity, call the Department of Financial Services, Division of Consumer Services Insurance Consumer Helpline immediately at 1-877-693-5236. Consumer concerns will be promptly referred to insurance fraud investigators.
Consumers who have questions about their insurance coverage are encouraged to call CFO Atwater’s Department of Financial Services, Division of Consumer Services Insurance Consumer Helpline at 1-877-693-5236. Insurance experts will be available on Tuesday September 6, starting at 8:00am EST to answer consumer questions and to aid consumers who need to file insurance claims.
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Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater, a statewide elected official, oversees the Department of Financial Services. CFO Atwater’s priorities include fighting financial fraud, abuse and waste in government, reducing government spending and regulatory burdens that chase away businesses, and providing transparency and accountability in spending. Follow the activities of the Department on Facebook (FLDFS) and Twitter (@FLDFS).