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NICB: Victims Of Pinellas Park Tornado Should Be Wary Of Potential Repair Scams

·3 min read

Advice and Resources Available for Post Tornado Victims

DES PLAINES, Ill., Dec. 17, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- As the Pinellas Park area recovers from the damage caused by powerful winds and tornadoes, the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) reminds consumers that in the aftermath, homeowners should remain alert to potential fraud by deceitful contractors and home repair businesses.

National Insurance Crime Bureau logo (PRNewsfoto/National Insurance Crime Bureau)
National Insurance Crime Bureau logo (PRNewsfoto/National Insurance Crime Bureau)

After a disaster, shady contractors often go door-to-door offering clean up and/or construction and repair services. Most are reputable, but some are not. One common scheme is to pocket a down-payment and then never show up for the job, or never complete a job that was started. Another scheme is to use inferior materials and perform shoddy work in order to increase profit.

"If you didn't request it, reject it."

Almost all scams are unsolicited—they begin with a visit from a contractor who seeks to help victims rebuild. That is why NICB recommends that "if you didn't request it, reject it." Before hiring any contractor, call your insurance company. Your insurer will honor its policy so there is no need to rush into an agreement with a contractor who solicits your repair work—especially when you did not request it.

NICB suggests you consider these tips before hiring a contractor:

  • Get more than one estimate.

  • Get everything in writing; cost, work to be done, time schedules, guarantees, payment schedules and other expectations should be detailed.

  • Demand references and check them out.

  • Ask to see the salesperson's driver's license and write down the license number and their vehicle's license plate number.

  • Never sign a contract with blanks; unacceptable terms could be added later.

  • Never pay a contractor in full or sign a completion certificate until the work is finished and ensure reconstruction is up to current code.

  • Make sure you review and understand all documents sent to your insurance carrier.

  • Never let a contractor pressure you into hiring them.

  • Never let a contractor interpret the insurance policy language.

  • Never let a contractor discourage you from contacting your insurance company.

For a free brochure with tips to avoid post-disaster fraud, click here.

REPORT FRAUD: Anyone with information concerning insurance fraud or vehicle theft can report it anonymously by calling toll-free 800.TEL.NICB (800.835.6422) or submitting a form on our website.

ABOUT THE NATIONAL INSURANCE CRIME BUREAU: Headquartered in Des Plaines, Ill., the NICB is the nation's leading not-for-profit organization exclusively dedicated to preventing, detecting and defeating insurance fraud and vehicle theft through data analytics, investigations, learning and development, government affairs and public affairs. The NICB is supported by more than 1,400 property and casualty insurance companies and self-insured organizations. NICB member companies wrote more than $526 billion in insurance premiums in 2019, or more than 82% of the nation's property-casualty insurance. That includes more than 95% ($241 billion) of the nation's personal auto insurance. To learn more visit www.nicb.org.

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SOURCE National Insurance Crime Bureau