Law Changes May Increase the Amount of Homeowners Fraud in Your Area
Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi is working with 15 other states in a new commission to target scam operations that preying on homes near foreclosure, those facing major repairs and potentially homes in the projected paths of hurricanes.
AG Bondi said that the actions of Florida and these other states, in conjunction with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Federal Trade Commission, are targeting scammers who provide mortgage rescue and loan modification schemes where you’re asked to pay a large upfront fee to avoid foreclosure or to gain access to some new programs.
In foreclosure scams, you will often be promised a guarantee of success in negotiating or removing your debt. No company can make this guarantee, so that should set off the red flags. It’s often illegal for debt management companies to ask for upfront fees, so call the police if you’re asked to pay a large amount of money for assistance. Ask for your local fraud or scam office and file a report to prevent these scammers from taking advantage of your friends, family or neighbors.
There is an increased concern that these scammers may start targeting consumers in the Florida panhandle as hurricanes approach this season because of recent news over the “Hurricane Tax” ending in 2015.
Scammers may ask you to sign up for assistance in eliminating the hurricane tax or ask for information to get you on a list. Scammers can seem knowledgeable about the law because of its large press coverage and the scam may be convincing because of excitement over the savings.
Hurricane Tax Information
Florida is losing what is commonly called the “Hurricane Tax” where Florida Insurers have been required to charge a 1.3% emergency assessment for the Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund in order to provide all Florida residents an extra set of protections against losses during hurricanes.
The state is doing away with this measure because Florida has been lucky enough to avoid a major hurricane since 2006.State officials think the extra fee and money pool is no longer necessary and want to eliminate the fee to help ease the financial burden on homeowners.
The great news is that these fees are now scheduled to end on January 1, 2015, a full 18 months before they were initially set to expire.
The downside is that phone call scams are a potential danger around this tax break. Scammers may call your home and pretend to be from the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation or other state bodies and ask for information about your insurance plan as well as personal information that can be used to steal your identity.
You will not need to provide any information to anyone to get your savings starting in 2015. Insurance providers will send out information about the change, but since it is automatically removed from your bill you won’t have to make any effort to see the price reduction.
If someone is claiming to be a part of the government or your insurance provider and is seeking personal information, you can report this fraud to the Florida Division of Insurance Fraud on its website or at (850) 413-3115.
For more about your insurance rights, read this post on the new legal protections in Florida.