Warning! Post-Disaster Scams in Texas

The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) announced it is working with law enforcement agencies, the Texas Department of Insurance and insurance companies to warn Texas storm victims about post-disaster rebuilding scams. After a disaster, contractors will often go door-to-door in neighborhoods that have sustained damage to offer clean up and/or construction and repair services.  Most of these people are reputable, but many are not, the NICB said. The dishonest ones may execute schemes to defraud innocent victims.

One common scheme is to pocket the payment and never show up for the job, or never complete a job that was started.  Another scheme is to use inferior materials and perform shoddy work that is not up to code in order to pocket more profit. Almost all of these scams are unsolicited — they begin with a visit from a contractor who seeks to help victims rebuild.  That is why we say, “If you didn’t request it, reject it.”

Unlike other states, Texas does not require a license for a roofing contractor nor is one required for solicitation. Local jurisdictions, however, may impose certain requirements before contractors can solicit work within their boundaries.  Another potential scam arising from the storms are flood vehicle resales.  Buying a flood vehicle is not illegal, but misrepresenting a flood-damaged vehicle as one that is not could be a crime exposing the seller to potential criminal charges.

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