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CFO Jimmy Patronis: Fraud Teams Activated, Residents Must Prepare Now for Tropical Storm Michael

TALLAHASSEE, Fla.— With Gov. Scott announcing he will issue an executive order declaring a state of emergency for counties in the Florida Panhandle and the Big Bend for Tropical Storm Michael, Florida Chief Financial Officer (CFO) and State Fire Marshal Jimmy Patronis activated his Disaster Fraud Action Strike Team (DFAST) which will deploy to protect Floridians from storm-related fraud. CFO Patronis urges residents across counties in the Florida Panhandle and Big Bend to act now to prepare for possible damage and flooding from the storm.
CFO Jimmy Patronis said, “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.
“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.”

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 your home or property like prepare sandbags and secure any leaks or areas of your 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 your insurance company’s or agent’s phone number along with your 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 your insurance company on social media for important storm-related information.

Indicators of Storm-Related Fraud:

1. A contractor or restoration professional who offered to waive or discount your insurance deductible.
2. A contractor or restoration professional that has received payment and has failed to provide any repairs to your 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 your home.
4. A contractor or restoration professional who pressured you to sign an AOB and has failed to provide any repairs to your home or stopped responding to your contact attempts.
While every insurance policy is different, some homeowner’s insurance policies may not cover flood damage. Floridians with any questions or concerns are encouraged to contact CFO Patronis' Consumer Helpline by calling 1-877-MY-FL-CFO (1-877-693-5236).
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