North Haven Gardens was flattened in the tornado. (Photo courtesy Cody Hoya/North Haven Gardens)

In the aftermath of the tornadoes and thunderstorms that left a wide swath of damage across Dallas and other parts of the Metroplex on Sunday night, Oct. 20, the Office of the Texas Attorney General has issued a warning to residents of the affected areas to be on guard against contracting scams by “unscrupulous individuals looking to take advantage of vulnerable Texans.”

In a press release issued Monday afternoon, Oct. 21, AG Ken Paxton said, “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.

“I encourage those affected by this terrible storm to take the extra time to evaluate and hire reputable contractors to avoid being defrauded,” Paxton continued. “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.”

The OAG offered these tips on avoiding contractor fraud in the wake of the storms:

  • 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.

More information on avoiding disaster-related scam is available at the OAG website.

Report suspicious or fraudulent activity by filing a complaint online here.