Scammers already preying on homeowners impacted by Harvey

by Ryan Smith31 Aug 2017
Insurance scammers have already started preying on homeowners impacted by Hurricane Harvey.

The Federal Trade Commission has issued a warning that scammers are making robocalls in areas affected by the storm, tell homeowners that their flood insurance is overdue and must be paid immediately in order to maintain coverage.

But the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which oversees the National Flood Insurance Program, generally provides extended grace periods during natural disasters, according to a CBS News report. During the flooding in Louisiana last year, FEMA extended its usual 30-day grace period for renewals to 120 days in affected areas. So even if a homeowner’s premium payment was due at month’s end, his flood
insurance wouldn’t be cancelled during the storm. 

“Every time there is a natural disaster, scammers jump in,” Lois Greisman, associate director for the FTC’s marketing practices division, told CBS News. “No one should be calling you about paying premiums right now. Everybody knows what is going on.”

Greisman also warned that FEMA representatives would never show up at your door to hand out financial aid. Some scammers go door-to-door and tell homeowners that they’re there to help – the homeowner just needs to pay an upfront “application” fee.

“That’s not the government’s method of doing business,” Greisman said.

According to the FTC, hurricane victims are much more likely to receive money from FEMA than to have to make a payment. The FTC is currently helping displaced hurricane victims cover temporary living costs, according to CBS News. The agency asks that flood victims make their initial claim online at www.disasterassistance.gov or call 1-800-621-3362.

And if you suspect someone is trying to scam you, call the FEMA Disaster Fraud Hotline at 1-866-720-5721.

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