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Watch out: Scammers will try to take advantage of storm damage

The KVUE Defenders have tips on spotting storm scams.

AUSTIN, Texas — It’s like another blow when you get scammed after dealing with storm damage. So, look carefully before you sign or fix anything damaged in a storm.

Scammers want your money. The Texas Department of Insurance’s (TD) website asks you to read all contracts carefully. Also, get an estimate first.

TDI reminds you to not sign a contract with blank sections, as a scammer can fill in extra charges. It is illegal for your contractor to waive any deductible. The contractor cannot give you a rebate on your deductible, either.

TDI’s website also says to never pay a large down payment or the entire bill upfront. Ask for the contractor’s certificate of insurance and bond certification.

Remember, some trades, like electricians and plumbers, require licensing.

The Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation covers dozens of licensed trades. The State Board of Plumbing Examiners can help you check your plumber’s history.

The Roofing Contractors Association of Texas shows that to become licensed with their organization an applicant must have worked in Texas for three continuous years. The contractors must submit credit and business references to RCAT.

Plus, the association requires “proof of financial responsibility, including insurance and bonding, workers compensation and a completed applicant statement.”

TDI encourages people to pay with a check or credit card in order to help keep a record of the payments.

Also, look up local requirements. Cities and counties may require permits for certain work.

TDI lists these resources and contacts for people who need to make repairs:

If you spot scams, file a complaint with the Texas Attorney General’s Office or call the Consumer Protection Hotline at 1-800-621-0508.

The consumer protection division investigates price gouging, unfair and unlawful practices.

If you have a news tip, email the KVUE Defenders at defenders@kvue.com.

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