After the widespread ice storms in the first week of February, many Texans are cleaning up debris and repairing damaged property. Attorney General Ken Paxton issued a consumer alert Feb. 8 warning Texans about dishonest salespeople who may try to profit off of natural disasters.

Texans in areas impacted by the storm may be approached by door-to-door repair and debris cleanup companies. Consumers should make sure they know their rights before signing a contract or paying a salesperson, the consumer alert said.

“Home improvement scams often flourish in the wake of disasters, especially violent storms, such as hurricanes and tornadoes,” the attorney general’s website said. “Some legitimate repair specialists may work door-to-door in these circumstances, but so do con artists.”

Texans should take their time when choosing a contractor, the attorney general’s office said. This includes getting price estimates from multiple companies and speaking with previous customers of the contractor they are interested in hiring.

Most home repair and improvement work is completed under a contract. The attorney general’s office said consumers should:
  • Never sign a contract they have not carefully read through or do not understand;
  • Never sign a contract that has blanks in it, as the blanks will likely be filled in later with terms the customer did not agree to; and
  • Never let anyone rush them into signing a contract.
Texans should also make sure everything they agreed to is included in the contract and make copies of everything signed for future reference, according to the attorney general’s office.

Consumers often have the right to cancel a contract with a door-to-door salesperson within three days after signing the contract, according to the consumer alert. Door-to-door salespeople are required to inform customers of that right, or else the contract may be considered void.

Texans can report suspicious or fraudulent activity to the Texas Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division by calling 1-800-621-0508 or filing an online complaint here.

The attorney general’s office has more information about home improvement scams here, while information on natural disaster scams is available here.