TAMPA, Fla. — In our continuing coverage of the Cost of Paradise, we have absent in-depth on Florida’s assets insurance coverage disaster as it unfolded around the earlier few of decades and resulted in two legislative unique classes last 12 months.
As we hold out to see the impression of the new rules, we are locating that there are even now men and women striving to acquire advantage of property owners. This time it’s not roofing scams but deceptive web-sites.
“This correct below is all the key terms of a web-site that told me they were being gonna halt attacking us, but they were not,” reported Dan Block, who owns an insurance policy company primarily based out of Illinois. “They practically will say they are one more insurance policy business, and they’re not, or they will say they are one more insurance coverage company, and they are not.”
Block’s agency is identified as Insurance policy King, and they write insurance policies for businesses in eight states, not which includes Florida.
That is why he was dumbfounded to discover a evaluation for his agency on a internet site proclaiming to be Citizens Insurance in Florida.
“They basically have my genuine tackle and mobile phone numbers and anything. It is really acquired my very own private identify Daniel Block is on below,” he exclaimed.
But when you click for a estimate, his internet site is nowhere to be discovered. In its place, it will take you to a internet site titled ‘Insurance Prices.’
Florida’s home insurance sector has been in a volatile state for many years. It’s brought on rates in the non-public marketplace to triple and drove additional than a million property owners to the point out-backed insurer Citizens Residence Insurance Corps. for protection they can afford.
It truly is attainable impersonators are hoping to choose gain of people seeking for Citizens on the web.
ABC Action News In-Depth Reporter Stassy Olmos did some digging into the web-site.
Its URL is: ‘CitizensInsuranceFlorida.com.’ The actual Citizens is ‘Citizensfla.com.’
At to start with glance, the site’s symbol looks accurately like the genuine Citizens.
The web site statements to offer you assets insurance policies and car or truck insurance policies with as very little as a $20 down payment.
Having said that, the authentic Citizens does not insure vehicles, and if you click on any of the backlinks to get a estimate, you are taken to other web-sites in which you are asked for all forms of own info.
In the phrases and ailments, the site claims to be component of LendingTree.
We seemed up the operator of the website, and which is when we discovered it was made in the very last few many years by an individual in Iceland.
When we called the site’s selection, it possibly disconnected straight away or was chaotic.
That is when we went to the Far better Business Bureau (BBB) to ask them to appear into it. Bryan Oglesby with the BBB West Florida division reported he related with other divisions in North Carolina, where by LendingTree is situated, as very well as Chicago, where Block is a member, to investigate this web-site.
“We arrived at out to LendingTree. We questioned them if they were affiliated with this site. They explained to us that they had been not,” Oglesby defined. “They essentially have warnings on their site about bogus web sites that use their brand recognition to make them search reputable.”
He included that the website appears to be spoofing numerous businesses – together with them.
“At the finish, when you fill out a questionnaire variety, it will take you to an close webpage that has basically the Much better Business Bureau accredited business enterprise brand on it… spoofing the BBB’s good, identified brand,” Oglesby said.
He claimed the end video game of this site is possibly swift income or your personal data to sell.
A spokesperson for Citizens Residence Coverage Corporation in Florida instructed us that this is not them. In reality, they really don’t give quotes directly to buyers without brokers, particularly not online.
They assured us that their fraud office is now hunting into it.
But the BBB mentioned this is not the very first and will not be the final web site like this.
Below are some factors you can do to keep away from slipping target:
- Test the URL for included terms or quantities
- Look for the name of the business enterprise or web-site with text like “review” or “scam” to see what are other folks are stating
- Glance the business enterprise up on the BBB’s precise website
- Never enter credit card information and facts for a quotation
“Expending a couple minutes of your time undertaking that study is likely to assistance save you staying the sufferer of identification theft or losing revenue from these varieties of internet websites,” Oglesby expressed.
As for the Insurance King, he is filed numerous stop and desist letters and two federal lawsuits from internet websites for trademark infringement. Block claimed two other folks are nevertheless pending.
“It really is pretty high-priced, and not too several companies like myself have emblems, correct? So I consider these firms get absent with it mainly because who’s gonna stop them?” he reported.
For people, it’s constantly most secure to get property insurance via an insurance coverage agent who specials specifically with firms.
These enterprise spoofers are not just concentrating on the insurance market place. The BBB mentioned they’ve experienced several scenarios in Tampa not long ago – a single exactly where a handyman was impersonated by somebody professing to promote infant formula on the web.
We asked what enterprise owners can do if this happens to their small business. Oglesby stated that there aren’t immediate solutions for a company proprietor like there are for consumers who are victimized.
“You absolutely want to report it to law enforcement. You want to speak to the Federal Trade Commission, report it with them. IC three.gov as properly. Unquestionably connect with your local Far better Small business Bureau will support you find sources and methods to overcome this and also join with your net host organization and report this, that you did not authorize this to see if you can get that web page shut down,” Oglesby said.
The BBB is also urging more regulation enforcement action towards on the internet cons.
“Prosecuting scammers stays challenging, but in March, the U.S. Office of Justice extradited and arrested two adult men from Lithuania for their alleged roles in a $3.5 million on line motor vehicle sale scam. BBB urges far more regulation enforcement action towards on the web cons and supplemental protection for consumers employing dollars-sharing applications,” the web site reads.
As a business owner, you can uncover details from the BBB on scams listed here.
Everyone can glimpse up scams or report a suspected rip-off to the BBB at the Fraud Tracker web site below.