Hurricane Irma may be gone. But scammers are rolling through in the wake of that storm and others.
As the Miami Herald reports:
Homeowners are particularly vulnerable to fast-talking, document-waving con artists who promise to help with repairs, insurance claims and FEMA payments.
“Hurricanes bring out a lot of good in people and also the worst in those few bad actors preying on homeowners whose most prized asset has been damaged,” said Jon Moore, spokesman for Florida’s Department of Financial Services. “We’re trying to educate and protect Floridians so they don’t fall victim to Irma for a second time.”
The state has dispatched three anti-fraud strike teams — including one in Miami-Dade County — to investigate suspicious activity and alert residents on how to recognize red flags. They are taking complaints from homeowners, meeting with homeowners associations and partnering with local law enforcement.
The Herald reports that since Hurricane Irma cut through the state a month ago, the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation has recorded $4.6 billion in damage claims.
And the Federal Government is concerned enough about scams that U.S. Attorneys offices in the Sunshine State and Puerto Rico and the National Center for Disaster Fraud established a 24-hour tip line.
The Palm Beach Post reports:
“Unfortunately, criminals can exploit disasters, such as Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, for their own gain by sending fraudulent communications through email or social media and by creating phony websites designed to solicit contributions,” said the center’s Acting Executive Director Corey R. Amundson.
The center routes complaints to local authorities and works with U.S. Attorneys’ offices to prosecute disaster-related crimes, Amundson said. Besides fraud and scams that target storm victims, the task force is also asking for information about individuals who exploit state and federal assistance programs by filing false claims.
Tips can be reported on the toll-free hotline at (866) 720-5721, faxed to (225) 334-4707 or emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here are a few things you can do to make sure scammers don’t take advantage of you in this stressful time:
- First, contact your insurance company.
- Beware of scammers claiming to be with FEMA asking for money to help with flood claims and verify the identity of anyone claiming to represent the government or relief agencies.
- Finally, don’t fall for scammers who pose as contractors. Instead, work with licensed, reputable professionals, like David Range Roofing.
We are a full-service roofing company with strong relationships with the industry’s top manufacturers. We know that suffering damage after a storm is hard enough, so we offer our customers insurance claims assistance.
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