This morning Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno took a tour of Lee County to begin assessing the damage caused by Hurricane Ian.

Florida AG Moody Warns Of Scams, Price Gouging In Wake Of Hurricane Ian

Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody is warning Floridians of price gouging, disaster scams, and fraud in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian.

Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody is warning Floridians of price gouging, disaster scams, and fraud in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian.

Thousands of Floridians have been displaced by Ian and may be seeking food, shelter, debris removal, or home repairs. Attorney General Moody’s Price Gouging Hotline remains activated for consumers to report allegations of extreme price increases, as well as scams related to the ongoing recovery efforts.

“Hurricane Ian devastated Floridians, destroying homes and leaving thousands without food, water, or electricity. Rebuilding will take months or longer—creating an inexhaustible demand for qualified contractors and debris removal services. Sadly, bad actors may exploit this demand to take advantage of people just trying to rebuild their lives. If anyone encounters one of these scams or excessive price increases on essential commodities, they need to report it to our office immediately so my Rapid Response Team can stop the fraud and keep others from falling prey,” said Moody.

Following a disaster like Hurricane Ian, qualified contractors are usually in high demand and become booked up for months.

Scammers or unqualified out-of-state workers may flood in to take advantage of Floridians in need of expert service. If property is damaged from the storm, follow these tips when hiring a contractor:

  • Have an insurance company evaluate damage before arranging repairs to ensure that the work will be covered under a policy;
  • Get at least three written, itemized estimates on bids or repairs;
  • Watch out for unsolicited offers or contractors claiming to perform repairs at a discount with leftover supplies from another job;
  • Research a company and its reputation—look for references online, or ask a friend;
  • Check to see if a company is properly licensed, insured and if there are any consumer complaints filed against a licensed contractor at MyFloridaLicense.com or by calling the Florida Attorney General’s Office at 1(866) 9NO-SCAM;
  • Make sure a contractor is bonded and verified with a bonding agency;
  • Read the entire contract, including the fine print, before signing to ensure it includes the required buyer’s right to cancel language. Understand penalties that may be imposed for cancellation;
  • Insist on releases of any liens that could be placed on the property from all subcontractors prior to making final payments. Homeowners may unknowingly have liens placed against their properties by suppliers or subcontractors who have not been paid by the contractor. If the contractor fails to pay them, the liens will remain on the title;
  • Never pay the full amount of a repair expense upfront and hesitate before providing large deposits; and
  • Do not sign a certificate of completion or make final payment until satisfied with the work performed.

Many contractors may ask consumers to complete an Assignment of Benefits that allows the homeowner who holds the insurance policy to sign over insurance rights or benefits to the contractor or other third parties.

The contractor or third party can then file an insurance claim, make repair decisions and collect on benefits without the homeowner’s involvement.

While AOBs can offer convenience to policyholders attempting to navigate the insurance claims process, unscrupulous individuals and companies may seek to take advantage of the power an AOB provides. If a home is damaged, keep the following in mind when seeking repairs:

  • Be wary of any company that requires an AOB in order to do repairs;
  • Read the entire contract carefully to ensure that benefits are not being signed over unknowingly; and
  • Do not sign an AOB if there are blank spaces in the document.

Anyone who suspects price gouging can report it to the Florida Attorney General’s Office by using the No Scam app, visiting MyFloridaLegal.com or calling 1(866) 9NO-SCAM. Attorney General Moody’s No Scam app can be downloaded for free on Apple and Android devices through the app store by searching No Scam.

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