After Hurricane Katrina struck in 2005, shoppers reported finding flood-damaged vehicles in used car lots across the U.S. Today, government officials and watchdog groups are working to prevent a repeat of that problem in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.
The National Insurance Crime Bureau, a nonprofit focused on preventing insurance fraud and vehicle theft, reports that many of the 230,000 vehicles damaged by Sandy are on their way to crushing facilities. NICB credits law enforcement agencies -- particularly the New York Police Department -- for getting vehicles towed to holding locations, where they're being identified and recorded prior to being scrapped. Insurance companies are working with NICB to facilitate the process.
True to its mission, however, NICB is also keeping a watchful eye on insurance fraud and other problems related to Sandy. The organization is paying particular attention to towing companies in the northeast, some of which removed undamaged or minimally damaged cars from city streets, then moved those vehicles to holding compounds. Now, they're submitting outrageous bills to insurance agencies and owners for their services.
And of course, there have been many reports of auto theft during the chaos that followed the storm -- theft of flood-damaged and undamaged vehicles alike. NICB is working to curb that, too.
If you live in an area affected by Hurricane Sandy and have experienced vehicle fraud or theft, or if you think you've seen unmarked flood-damaged vehicles for sale, you can file an anonymous report with NICB in one of three ways:
- Call 1-800-TEL-NICB (1-800-835-6422)
- Text the word "fraud" to TIP411 (847411)
- Visit www.NICB.org.