N.J. Sen. Menendez Warns of Predatory Groups Targeting Sandy Victims

June 16, 2015

U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) is urging Sandy victims to be wary of scam-artists offering to help them navigate through the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) claims review process in exchange for a substantial cut of any supplemental flood insurance payout they could get.

FEMA has been sending out letters in batches by ZIP codes since May 18 to NFIP policyholders who filed Sandy-related claims, offering them a chance to have their claims reviewed. In the review, policyholders who have not pursued litigation or already received the maximum amount under their policy will have an opportunity to have their files reviewed. The policyholders have 90 days from the date of the notice to contact FEMA if they decide to sign up for the review.

Menendez’s warning comes after several Sandy victims and disaster recovery groups notified the senator’s office that they had received solicitations and seen advertisements, even some including unauthorized quotes from the senator, according to the June 11 announcement.

“The last thing Sandy victims need, after they waited so long to get this second chance to have their claims reopened by FEMA, is to have to pay money they don’t have just to get the insurance proceeds they deserve,” said Menendez.

“FEMA has assured me that the process is simple, easy to navigate and designed to be completed by the homeowner without the need for outside assistance. In addition, there are several non-profit, legal service providers that are ready to offer free legal advice and answer any questions you may have,” he said.

Menendez said he was alerted to ads running on television offering Sandy victims assistance with the FEMA claims review process for a fee. The ads prominently feature Menendez’s name and words without his endorsement, he said.

Menendez encourages Sandy flood insurance claimants who feel they were underpaid by the NFIP to contact FEMA’s Sandy Claims Review Center at (866) 337-4262 or www.fema.gov/hurricane-sandy-nfip-claims.

“You don’t need a middleman taking 30 percent of what you’re already entitled to and been waiting too long to receive,” Menendez said. “You have every right to have an attorney, and there are organizations that will offer free services to ensure that you get 100 percent of what is owed to you.”

Among the not-for-profit and charity groups offering legal services to Sandy victims at no charge are:

  • Legal Services of New Jersey Hurricane Sandy Hotline: (888) 222-5765
  • Volunteer Lawyers for Justice: (855) 301-2525

Menendez last week also unveiled a new public service announcement encouraging Sandy survivors who feel they were underpaid on their flood insurance claim to take advantage of “a second chance to get what you deserve” by contacting FEMA to have their claim reopened.

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