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Don’t be victimized twice

January 15, 2016
Cape Coral Daily Breeze

They are out there and they are bold.

Individuals representing themselves as insurance adjustors or contractors are flocking to the hard-hit southwest Cape offering assistance with insurance claims or to do repair work.

Among the incidents we have heard from just one affected homeowner:

- A person who said she was an insurance appraiser entered the homeowner's garage offering to help with a claim. She was not local nor did she represent the homeowner's insurance company.

- The same homeowner had a man enter the garage to pitch tree removal services. Neither the homeowner, nor a storm-affected family member next door, had any downed trees.

- Two trucks, one marked as a roofing company, the other an unsigned pickup truck, stopped at the family member's home, soliciting roofing work.

- Across the street, the homeowner's son noticed a truck stop. Two people got out, looked around at the debris in the front yard and entered the back through a downed fence. Questioned, the two people in the vehicle said they were "scrapping."

- Another neighbor was approached by a purported air-conditionering company whose representatives advised the homeowner to not call their insurance company because "their rates would go up" but to let them "take care of" the damage.

"It's just very scary," the homeowner, a Breeze management employee, said.

Indeed.

It's bad enough to have experienced the scare of a high-wind tornado roaring through your neighborhood, suffered damage to your home and devastation to your neighborhood, gone without electrical service due to the downing of multiple lines and more than 100 power poles, only to have out-of-town vultures hover about hoping for easy pickin's.

Please take care so that you are not revictimized.

Earlier this week, the Cape Coral Police Department issued a warning to the nearly 200 homeowners who sustained a collective $6.6 million in damages due to Saturday night's storm.

"City officials want to stress the importance of not hiring unlicensed contractors to work on homes that have been damaged by the tornado, nor for any other work inside the City limits of Cape Coral," the release issued by the CCPD on Monday states. "Entering into a contract is a major project for most people and you want to be assured the business you are hiring is legitimate..."

The CCPD offers the following tips for identifying contractors who may not have the proper licensing to perform work in the city:

n Be aware of "special" deals or "this is good only for today."

n Most contractors will not go door to door looking for business.

n Ask for names and addresses of previous customers.

n They may ask for partial or full payment up front without doing any work. Most companies will collect payment when the work is completed or during stages of the process.

n Contractors must have State and Local licenses to work in the City of Cape Coral. The license number must be on the work vehicles and contracts they provide to their customers.

n Consumers can check myflorida.com to see if the contractor is licensed.

n Residents can also call 239-574-0432 which is the licensing division at City Hall to verify City and State licensing for contractors.

Meanwhile, the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America also sent a release this week advising those whose property has suffered damage that the "first step to recovery is contacting your insurer to begin the claims process."

"Most severe weather related events like hail and tornados are covered under either a homeowners, renters or commercial insurance policy. Renters insurance covers a policyholders' personal possessions damaged by tornados. Windstorm and hail damage for cars is covered by the comprehensive coverage in an auto insurance policy," the association states.

Good advice. Let us add that contacting established local companies is wise and another good bullet point for those in need of repair or cleanup assistance.

We thank the Cape Coral Police Department and its personnel for their concerted and continued efforts to protect residents affected by the storm. We also thank the Cape Coral Fire Department and its personnel; all of the city officials and staffers who hit the streets to assist; and LCEC, whose workers labored straight through to restore power.

We recognize the efforts of those affected themselves as neighbor looked out for neighbor; all of the residents who turned out with food donations and the like; and those who are continuing the effort.

For those who still would like to do more, a combination tornado relief rally and fundraiser will be held Sunday from 8 p.m. to midnight at Back Streets.

Cash donations will go to the Red Cross and donations of goods - such as people and pet food, clothing and blankets-will be distributed locally.

Non-cash donations may be dropped off at Gear Head Tattoo, 4425 Del Prado Blvd., or the Masonic Lodge, 244 Santa Barbara Blvd. Monetary donations should be made out to Cape Coral Tornado Victims, and mailed to Beach Baptist Church, 130 Connecticut St., Fort Myers Beach, 33904.

Rally organizers are also seeking donations for items to be raffled at Sunday's fundraiser. If you have an item or service you are willing to donate, Contact Keith Clanton at keith.clanton@yahoo.com; Dawn Gaylor, gaylordawn@yahoo.com, or Shelly at Backstreets Sports Bar, 239-945-7555.

- Breeze Editorial

 
 
 

 

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