main menu page title feature menus content footer
My Florida C F O

CFO's Initiatives

Stay Connected

Follow the
Department of
Financial Services

Sign up for the CFO's
weekly newsletter!

Press Release

News   RSS RSS   Press Office   Archive

CFO Patronis: Be Scam Smart #AfterIrma

9/18/2017

For Immediate Release:
September 18, 2017
 
Contact: Ashley Carr
(850) 413–2842
communications@myfloridacfo.com

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis today warned Floridians of scammers looking to take advantage of those impacted by Hurricane Irma. Floridians should be vigilant in verifying the identity of those claiming to represent government and relief agencies, and should ask questions to fully understand all contracts with insurance and repair companies.
 
CFO Patronis said, "As Florida continues the recovery process following Hurricane Irma, I urge all consumers to be scam smart and on the lookout for opportunistic scammers who try to prey on vulnerable people during this time. Regrettably, there are individuals who will attempt to take advantage of our fellow Floridians.”
 
Below are tips to help protect Floridians from scams:

• Ensure you understand all documents a contractor requests you to sign, including assignment of benefits agreements. Ask questions until you fully understand who is responsible for payment.

• Verify the identity of individuals claiming to represent government and relief agencies or insurance companies. Official personnel should display their ID badges, should provide identification without hesitation upon request, and say why they are in the area (i.e. surveying damage, assisting residents, etc.). If you suspect that someone is impersonating official personnel, contact the local police department or sheriff’s office immediately.
 
    o Beware of imposters going 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.

 Reports of such activity were reported in North Florida following Hurricane Hermine.

    o Beware of robocalls from imposters claiming to represent FEMA, asking consumers to hang up and dial a 1-800 number to make an insurance payment ASAP to prevent policy cancellations.

 Reports of such activity have been reported in Texas following Hurricane Harvey.

• If you have damage to your home or vehicle, contact your insurance company as soon as possible to file a claim.
 
    o Beware of fly-by-night repair businesses and hire only licensed professionals. To verify a contractor’s license, visit the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation’s website - www.MyFloridaLicense.com
 
    o Also, ensure that contractors carry the proper liability and workers’ compensation insurance by checking the Department’s Division of Workers’ Compensation database.
 
    o Beware of contractors requesting that you pay more than      half of the cost upfront. If an offer sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
 
• If considering the assistance of a public insurance adjuster, verify that they are licensed.
 
   o Be sure that you understand how much a public insurance adjuster is charging and what services are included before signing a contract.
 
   o When there is a state of emergency declared by the Governor, there is a cap of 10% on the fee a public adjuster can charge. The cap applies to all residential and commercial residential claims related to the event for one year.
 
   o To verify an insurance agent’s or adjuster’s license, visit the  Hurricane Irma resources webpage at www.MyFloridaCFO.com.
 
The Department of Financial Services’ 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. Insurance experts are available from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET Monday through Friday.