DES PLAINES, Ill., Oct. 31, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- As the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast regions recover from Hurricane Sandy, personnel from the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) stand ready to assist law enforcement agencies, insurance and car rental companies with identifying and cataloging vehicles damaged by Hurricane Sandy with the goal of preventing damaged vehicles from being resold to unsuspecting consumers in the future.
Authorities estimate that thousands of vehicles may have received damage from flooding in several states.
"Unscrupulous salvage operators and dealers often try to conceal from potential buyers the fact that vehicles have been damaged by a natural disaster," said NICB President and CEO Joe Wehrle.
"As soon as local law enforcement is able to begin the process, NICB will offer our assistance with identifying these damaged vehicles to reduce the potential for consumers being taken advantage of by this type of fraud."
Seven years ago, in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, NICB worked with law enforcement officials in Louisiana and Mississippi to inspect hundreds of thousands of vehicles damaged by flood waters. NICB then established an unprecedented consumer protection service known today as VINCheck(SM). VINCheck allows individuals to check to see if a vehicle has ever been declared as salvage by one of our participating member insurance companies. It also alerts users if a vehicle is an unrecovered stolen vehicle. VINCheck remains a free service available to the public at www.nicb.org.
NICB will also work with law enforcement and its member companies to ensure that damaged vehicles are entered into the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System (NMVTIS) which currently includes information from 88 percent of the U.S. vehicle population. More than half of the states report data to the system and approximately 20 million salvage or total loss records are in NMVTIS.
Potential for post-Hurricane Sandy fraud also exists with unscrupulous towing companies who may take advantage of consumers and insurance companies. In addition to vehicles, NICB is also alerting disaster victims to be aware of the potential for fraud that exists as efforts to repair and rebuild get underway.
"Fraud is an unfortunate reality in post-disaster environments," said Wehrle. "As the initial recovery from Hurricane Sandy begins, there are people right now who are planning to converge on the affected areas in order to scam disaster victims out of their money while promising to do repairs."
A free brochure with tips to avoid post-disaster fraud is available here.
Anyone with information concerning vehicle theft and insurance fraud can report it anonymously by calling toll-free 1-800-TEL-NICB (1-800-835-6422), texting keyword "fraud" to TIP411 (847411) or by visiting our Web site at www.nicb.org. Or, iPhone or iPad users can download the NICB Fraud Tips app to make it easy to quickly send a tip and get a response
About the National Insurance Crime Bureau: headquartered in Des Plaines, Ill., the NICB is the nation's leading not-for-profit organization exclusively dedicated to preventing, detecting and defeating insurance fraud and vehicle theft through data analytics, investigations, training, legislative advocacy and public awareness. The NICB is supported by more than 1,100 property and casualty insurance companies and self-insured organizations. NICB member companies wrote over $319 billion in insurance premiums in 2010, or approximately 80 percent of the nation's property/casualty insurance. That includes more than 94 percent ($152 billion) of the nation's personal auto insurance. To learn more visit www.nicb.org.
SOURCE National Insurance Crime Bureau