The scams after the storm

The scams after the storm

By Greg Collier

Even though temperatures are returning to normal in Texas, there is still a lot of clean-up that needs to be done in the Lone Star State. Power lines still need to be restored and many Texas residents experienced substantial home damage after frozen pipes burst in their homes. After any disaster, scavengers will descend upon the area looking to take advantage of those in need. The Texas winter storm is no different, and it’s not just Texas residents that have to look out for scammers.

If you live in the affected areas of Texas, you might want to keep an eye out for shady or phony contractors who appear out of the blue offering to repair your home. If you receive unsolicited calls offering repair service or someone just shows up to your home, there’s a very good chance that they are a scammer. We’re obviously not saying that all contractors are scammers, however, there are many scammers who pose as contractors.

If you were to accept one of these offers, you could be looking at unfinished work at best and loss of potential federal assistance funds at worst. The Texas Department of insurance recommends getting multiple bids from contractors before settling on one to repair your home. You might be tempted to go with the first offer since you want your home operating properly as soon as possible, but that could possibly lead to even more problems. In turn, that could potentially further delay your home from returning to normal.

You should also avoid anyone who says they’ll waive your insurance deductible or asks for a large down payment or full payment up front. In many cases, these actions are illegal in Texas.

For people living outside of Texas, you have to be wary of charity scams. If you receive a phone call, text, email, or social media message soliciting for donations, ignore them and delete them. Most scammers will use vague names of charities like ‘Storm Relief’. They’ll also try to pressure you into making a donation at that very moment. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t donate to a legitimate charity to help those in need in Texas. CNN has a list of legitimate charities assisting in Texas disaster relief. You can also go to Charity Navigator to make sure the charity you’re donating to will actually get help to where it’s needed most.