Gov. Greg Abbott issued a disaster declaration on Oct. 21 for 16 Texas counties as a result of severe weather and damage from tornadoes. In addition to providing any and all state resources to local officials, this declaration will waive certain regulations, allowing utility companies to bring in out-of-state resources to assist in restoring power as quickly as possible.
“By issuing this declaration, Texas is providing local officials with the resources they need to quickly respond and recover from this storm,” said Abbott. “My heart goes out to the Texans impacted by this severe weather, and the people of Texas can rest assured that the state will do everything it can to assist those affected by these horrific storms.”
This declaration includes Cass, Cameron, Collin, Dallas, Ellis, Erath, Hunt, Kaufman, Lamar, Panola, Rains, Rockwall, Rusk, Tarrant, Van Zandt and Wood counties.
In the aftermath of tornadoes and violent storms across North Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton warned those in affected areas to guard against contracting scams as they prepare to rebuild and offered tips to safeguard against unscrupulous individuals looking to take advantage of vulnerable Texans.
“Unfortunately, disasters like the devastating storms last night can attract bad actors aiming to exploit Texans still reeling from damage or destruction of their property. While rebuilding, I encourage all those impacted to beware of unreliable contractors who fail to perform work they were paid to do,” Paxton said. “I encourage those affected by this terrible storm to take the extra time to evaluate and hire reputable contractors to avoid being defrauded. The consumer protection hotline will remain open and we stand ready to assist anyone who has been preyed upon after this disaster. Please call my office at 800-621-0508 to report unscrupulous behavior.”
Atty Gen. Paxton’s Consumer Protection Division offers the following tips to avoid contractor fraud during the clean-up and rebuilding process:
- Contact an insurance adjuster to get an estimate of the damage and repair cost.
- Don’t sign a check from your insurance company over to a contractor.
- Only do business with licensed or bonded contractors or builders. Get multiple estimates.
- Be cautious of contractors who solicit services door-to-door, especially those that are unfamiliar or from out of town and try to pressure you into signing a contract on the spot.
- Get the salesperson’s license plate number.
- Consult the Better Business Bureau to ensure you are working with a trustworthy business.
- Ask for referrals from people you trust and for references from contractors.
- Get more than one estimate on work, so you know if you’re being overcharged. Don’t be rushed into signing a contract and never pay in full up-front for promised work.
- Never pay cash up front to anyone for repairs. Consider paying by credit card to avail yourself of additional protections.
- Get everything in writing, including the terms of any warranty, and keep a copy of all documents.
Additional information to help tornado and storm victims protect against disaster-related scams is available on the attorney general’s website at https://www.texasattorneygeneral.gov/cpd/disaster-scams. Consumers can report suspicious or fraudulent activity by filing a complaint online at https://www.texasattorneygeneral.gov/cpd/file-a-consumer-complaint.