PHOTO: Assemblyman Goldfeder is calling on homeowners to remain vigilant in securing personal information as they start dealing with adjusters that are reviewing their flood insurance claims. File Photo
By Michael V. Cusenza
It’s that time of year: Scam Season.
The annual income tax filing period is a gold mine for schemers that use the phone and computer to take advantage of targets and pilfer money and identities.
This year, Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder (D-Howard Beach), is calling on area homeowners that were victimized by Superstorm Sandy to remain especially vigilant in securing their personal information as they begin to receive responses to their requests for review of their flood insurance claims.
According to Goldfeder, families have contacted his district office recently after receiving emails from adjusters regarding their request for review of National Flood Insurance Policy flood claims filed last year. In one such email from the organization NFIP iService, adjusters use language such as “significant payout recommendation” and request personal information including date of birth, city and state of birth, and flood policy numbers.
Goldfeder contacted the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which oversees the NFIP, to confirm the company’s identity. FEMA officials indicated that NFIP iService is legitimate, explaining that FEMA has contracted the company as a third party to oversee the claims-review process. FEMA has offered to work with Goldfeder’s office in verifying the identity of individual adjusters that may contact homeowners in regard to their claims.
“After everything our families have gone through during Sandy, it’s shameful that there are people that will still try to take advantage of victims,” Goldfeder said. “As policyholders begin to hear back on their claims, I urge families to remain vigilant in protecting their personal information and ensuring the identity of adjusters that may reach out to them. We’ve been through so much in the last three and a half years and the last thing we need is to see families victimized all over again.”
Last March, federal officials announced that FEMA has agreed to reopen and review every flood insurance claim filed by Sandy victims, and not limit corrective action to just the 2,200 that were in litigation as of spring 2015.
Early last year, FEMA admitted to its role in a fraud scandal, detailing how NFIP may have cheated thousands of Sandy homeowners out of millions in insurance funds.
As of March 3, 2016, 3,690 claims have been closed within the Sandy Claims Review process, Goldfeder said, resulting in payments of more than $25 million to 1,700 policyholders.
Additionally, Goldfeder last year introduced legislation to create the New York Flood Insurance Association – a joint underwriting alliance aimed at providing homeowners with an alternative to rising federally-backed flood insurance premiums by offering “economical, fair and non-discriminatory policies; and protect families from the unfair flood damage claims practices experienced following” Sandy.
Goldfeder also recently sponsored the Insurance Good Faith Act, which establishes grounds for filing civil lawsuits to recoup damages.