Contractors and home improvement companies may also call claiming to be partners with your insurance provider. Never give policy numbers, coverage details, or other personal information out to companies with whom you have not entered into a contract. If your state requires licensing, verify that any contractor you are considering is licensed and carries adequate insurance. Many states have online databases you can check.
Home improvement scams often flourish in the wake of emergencies, especially violent storms such as hurricanes and tornadoes. Beware of one-time offers—"available only today!"—or a special deal on materials left over from another job. If your home needs repairs, your best bet is to call a few home repair companies in your area and then check their references.
Under the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act, price gouging is illegal, and the Office of the Attorney General has the authority to prosecute any business that engages in price gouging after an emergency has been declared by the governor. If you feel that you are being unfairly charged for goods or services after an emergency for a necessity, raise the issue of price gouging with the provider.
- Donate to trusted, well-known charities. Beware of scammers who create fake charities during natural disasters. Always verify a charity's legitimacy through its official website. If you have doubts, you can check with Better Business Bureau's Wise Giving Alliance, Charity Navigator, Charity Watch, or GuideStar. You can also check with the National Association of State Charity Officials whether charities must be registered in your state and if the charity contacting you is on file with your state.
- Verify all phone numbers for charities. If you need to contact a charity by phone, check the charity's official website to see if the number you have is legitimate. If you're using text-to-donate, check with the charity to ensure the number is legitimate before donating.
- Do not open suspicious emails. If you receive a suspicious email requesting donations or other assistance, do not click on any links or open any attachments. Scammers regularly use email for phishing attacks and to spread malware.
- Verify information in social media posts. Double-check any solicitation for charitable donations before you give. Crowd-funding websites often host individual requests for help but they are not always vetted by the site or other sources.
If you would like to further your reading on Post-Disaster scams, here are some additional articles with more information:
Federal Communications Commission: After Storms, Watch Out for Scams
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As an active part of the community for 90 years, Neighborhood Credit Union is a not-for-profit financial organization with locations in Collin, Dallas, Denton, and Ellis counties, as well as the city of Arlington. Located all across North Texas and assets topping $970 million, Neighborhood Credit Union has a continuously growing membership of 56,000. For more information, call (214) 748-9393 or visit our homepage.