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 the storm Monday.
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:
- "Search for licensed fire sprinkler repair contractors: Use the State Fire Marshal’s Office Company/Licensee Search to find contractors licensed and authorized to repair fire sprinklers in Texas. Use the Company Search tab and enter SCR-G in the “License Type/Number” box.
- Office of Public Insurance Counsel: Check the website for tips, call 1-877-611-6742, or email email@example.com.
- Texas Windstorm Insurance Association: 877-281-1431 (English) or 866-443-3144 (Español).
- National Flood Insurance Program: How to file a claim
- Texas FAIR Plan Association: 877-786-5665 (English) or 866-443-6738 (Español).
- DisasterAssistance.gov: Apply for FEMA help, check the status of your application, or find a hotel that accepts FEMA's Transitional Sheltering Assistance.
- 2-1-1 Texas: Call 2-1-1 for help with food, housing, health care, and more.
- Windstorm Inspection Program
- Texas Department of Motor Vehicles: Water-damaged vehicles title check
- Helping storm victims: A toolkit for community groups
- Preventing fraud after a storm: a toolkit for city and county officials"
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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