Scammers extort Cyclone Debbie casualties
Phoney assessors and contractors seek cash payments.
Australian home and business owners affected by Tropical Cyclone Debbie have been warned to avoid and report scammers and con artists posing as builders and insurance assessors, going door-to-door and seeking payment for bogus inspection, clean-up and repair services.
The Insurance Council of Australia (ICA) issued the cautionary notice this week, reminding Australians to stay on their toes and contact their insurer with any claims or questions.
ICA CEO Rob Whelan said being aware of scams could save policyholders from becoming victims twice.
"They often claim to represent the insurance company and pressure the householder or business owner for money. They may offer deals on repairs, demanding cash up front, and leaving the job unfinished or poorly done. They will sometimes pressure their victims to drive to an ATM to withdraw money," he said.
Whelan also said insurance representatives would never demand cash to carry out inspections.
"Never agree to repairs you may wish to lodge a claim for without checking with your insurer. Not only are scammers unlikely to do a good job, but unauthorised work may not be covered by your policy," he said.
Insurance companies were thrust into action last week after the devastating cyclone touched down in Queensland and northern New South Wales, causing immense damage to homes and businesses.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk expects restoration costs to be in the billions of dollars.
Australia's biggest banks announced relief and waiver packages to assist all affected customers.
The ICA has a list of recommendations outlining what to do if you're approached by questionable insurance representatives:
- If unexpectedly approached by a contractor or assessor, request credentials
- If you aren't satisfied, contact your insurance company
- Authorised assessors will normally notify customers in advance before repairs or inspections
- Ask to see the person's driver's licence and copy their details
- Do not provide payment to a contractor or assessor unless authorised by your insurer
- Do not sign a contract with someone you have been unable to identify
- Contact your insurance company and seek advice about repairs processes
- Report suspected scammers to the National Travelling Conman Hotline on 1300 133 408