Florida Activates Disaster Fraud Teams Ahead of Hurricane Michael

October 8, 2018

The Florida Department of Financial Services Disaster Fraud Action Strike Team (DFAST) has been activated ahead of what is expected to become Hurricane Michael and will be deployed in the affected areas to protect Floridians from storm-related fraud, according to a statement from Florida Chief Financial Officer (CFO) and State Fire Marshal Jimmy Patronis.

DFS said in the statement indicators of storm-related fraud include:

1. A contractor or restoration professional who offered to waive or discount an insurance deductible.
2. A contractor or restoration professional that has received payment and has failed to provide any repairs to the home.
3. A contractor or restoration professional who offered to provide repairs at a cash-only discounted rate and has failed to provide repairs to the home.
4. A contractor or restoration professional who pressure the policyholder to sign an AOB and has failed to provide any repairs to the home or stopped responding to contact attempts.

With Florida Governor Rick Scott announcing an executive order declaring a state of emergency for counties in the Florida Panhandle and the Big Bend for what is now Tropical Storm Michael, Patronis is urging residents across counties in the region to act now to prepare for possible damage and flooding from the storm.

“Floridians shouldn’t take this tropical threat lightly and must act now to protect themselves and their property. Taking steps today, like gathering important insurance and financial documents and snapping photos of valuables for your home inventory, can make a major difference during recovery,” he said.

Patronis urged residents to take steps to prepare for possible flooding that could come from the storm.

“Flooding is always a top concern during a storm and residents must protect their property from the devastation floods can cause. Hurricane Irma last year resulted in 1,824 private flood insurance claims and floods in Florida have cost more than $5.1 billion since 1978. Taking steps now can help prevent major losses,” he said.

Simple Steps to Prepare for a Storm:

  1. Snap a Photo:Take photos or video of belongings, gather receipts and write down purchase dates (if known) and serial numbers.
  2. Prepare Your Home:Take steps to secure the home or property like prepare sandbags and secure any leaks or areas of the home where tropical rains or sitting water could be problematic. Some communities will offer free sandbags so check with local government officials for more information.
  3. Keep Info Handy: Save the insurance company’s or agent’s phone number along with financial institution and mortgage company’s contact information for ease of filing future claims. Keep copies of policies in a plastic bag for safe keeping and be sure to follow insurance company on social media for important storm-related information.

Floridians with any questions or concerns are encouraged to contact the DFS Consumer Helpline by calling 1-877-MY-FL-CFO (1-877-693-5236).

Source: Florida Department of Financial Services

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