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How to avoid scams after severe storms

Steer clear of crooks with these simple steps

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HOUSTON – Crooks come out of the woodwork after storms like the ones we saw in southeast Texas on Tuesday, but you can steer clear of them by following a few simple steps.

Tips for hiring a contractor

Call your insurance company first to report any damage to your home or property and avoid contractors who are going door to door drumming up business, whether it's a roofer or any kind of repair person. Many times these people are not even from Texas. If you hire them, and have a problem with their work in the future, getting them back to fix it will be difficult.

When you do call a company or person to get an estimate, you should tell them you plan to do a background check on them, and that you need their full name, address, phone number, email and date of birth. If they hesitate to provide that information, move along to the next business.

Checking out a company can be as easy as searching their name or phone number, along with words like "rip-off" and "scam" to see what others may be saying about them.

Get estimates from more than one company. Three is a good number. Checking with them out with the Better Business Bureau is a given.

Also, one final check: Ask them where they buy their supplies and materials, and then call that company to find out if the person you plan to hire pays their bills on time.