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CFO Jimmy Patronis: Unlicensed Contractors Caught Following Hurricane Michael

10/29/2018

For Immediate Release: Monday, October 29, 2018
Contact: Devin Galetta, 850.413.2842, devin.galetta@myfloridacfo.com  

CFO Jimmy Patronis: Unlicensed Contractors Caught Following Hurricane Michael
 
PANAMA CITY, Fla.—Florida Chief Financial Officer (CFO) and State Fire Marshal Jimmy Patronis announced three contractors conducting business in Leon, Gadsden, and Gulf counties have been removed from the Panhandle by his Disaster Fraud Action Strike Team for unlicensed activity following Hurricane Michael. The contractors are banned from soliciting or conducting any work in Florida pending a full investigation.
 
CFO Jimmy Patronis said, “Anyone who tries to take advantage of Florida families and businesses during this vulnerable time will be caught. I can’t stress this enough: do not hire anyone without asking for their professional license information and if they have workers’ comp insurance.
 
“Residents and businesses are focused on getting back to normal as quickly as possible, so scam artists are peddling false promises of fast repairs and no hassle. I am working to stop post-storm fraud and throw anyone who commits these crimes in jail.”
 
CFO Patronis’ teams are investigating reports of potential fraud in Bay, Gulf, Washington, and Leon counties. Unlicensed activity can put homeowners and contractors at risk and opens the door to fraud. Consumers should always verify that contractors have the appropriate licenses, including workers’ compensation coverage, before they hire a company to assist in repairs after a storm.
 
Tips to Stop Post-Storm Fraud:

• Beware of Crooked Contractors. Watch for a contractor or restoration professional who: offers 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.
 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 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.
• 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 - www.MyFloridaLicense.com/.

CFO Patronis’ Disaster Fraud Action Strike Team was formed last year after Hurricane Irma to stay ahead of post-storm fraud. The Strike Team was activated before Hurricane Michael made landfall and had boots on the ground immediately following the storm. Initials sweeps have been made in Liberty, Gadsden, Gulf, and Leon counties. First sweeps in Bay, Jackson and Washing counties are ongoing. Secondary sweeps in the impacted areas will begin this week.
 
To report any suspicious activity call CFO Patronis’ help line at 1-877-MY-FL-CFO. 
 
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About CFO Jimmy Patronis
Chief Financial Officer and State Fire Marshal Jimmy Patronis is a native Floridian and a member of Florida’s Cabinet, who oversees the Department of Financial Services. CFO Patronis works each day to fight insurance fraud, support Florida’s firefighters, and ensure the state’s finances are stable to support economic growth in the state. Follow the activities of the Department on Facebook (FLDFS) and Twitter (@FLDFS).