Texas Border Business
EDINBURG – As residents work to rebuild their homes following Hurricane Hanna, the Office of Hidalgo County District Attorney Ricardo Rodriguez, Jr. is urging the public to beware of disaster scams.
After an emergency, residents may see an influx of door-to-door contractors in their neighborhood. While some may be reputable, others may not be and it is important to know where to report them.
To report a scam, call your local law enforcement office or the District Attorney’s office at 956-292-7600. You can also file a complaint online at the Texas Attorney General’s Office website: https://www.texasattorneygeneral.gov/consumer-protection/file-consumer-complaint.
When you are ready to begin the process of rebuilding your home, there are several steps you should follow. If you have home insurance, call your insurance provider to file a claim for damage. They will send an adjuster to your home to survey the damage and provide you with an estimate for repairs. This will provide you with a benchmark estimate, prepared by a professional, which will help as you negotiate with contractors.
Below are some helpful tips to follow when hiring a contractor:
- Get more than one estimate. Don’t be pushed into signing a contract right away.
- Try to use local contractors. Check the contractor out online and consider getting references from past customers.
- Don’t pay upfront. Get everything in writing and don’t sign a contract with blanks on it.
- Keep a copy of all documents. The total cost, work to be done, schedule, payment terms, and other expectations should be written in specific detail. A notice of cancellation – giving you the right to change your mind within three business days – must be included if the transaction occurs at your home.
- Ask for proof of insurance. Make sure that the contractor has a disability and workers’ compensation insurance. If the contractor is not insured, you could be liable for accidents on your property.
- Ask for guarantees in writing. If the contractor provides guarantees, they should be written into the contract, clearly stating what is guaranteed, who is responsible for the guarantee (the dealer, the contractor, or the manufacturer), and how long the guarantee is valid.
- Protect yourself from identity theft. Don’t share personal information like credit card or bank information with anyone that shows up at your door.
- Don’t sign completion papers or make final payment until the work is completed to your satisfaction. A reputable contractor will not threaten you or pressure you to sign if the job is not finished properly.
You can visit the Texas Attorney General’s Office website to get more information on how to avoid disaster scams: https://www.texasattorneygeneral.gov/consumer-protection/disaster-and-emergency-scams/disaster-scams.