BEAUMONT, Texas — Plumbers from across the country are heading to Texas to help with broken pipes caused by below freezing temperatures during the winter storm.
Gov. Greg Abbott has agreed to issue provisional licenses to out-of-state plumbers. Plumbers in town say it's welcomed help, but we still need to be on alert for scammers and price gougers.
Stress is high and your judgement may be off, but that doesn't mean you have to fall a victim to contractor fraud. Scammers usually show up at your door step unannounced, offering to do repairs and asking for an upfront payment. Do your research first.
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A legit contractor should show you proof of insurance and proper licenses.
“See if their bonded with the city because you must have your contractor pull the correct permits to be able to work on your property, and if those people are not bonded with the city and are unable to pull permits then that's really not someone you want to do business with,” said Rick Williams with the Southeast Texas Civilians Taskforce.
Ask for references. Check social media and the Better Business Bureau for reviews and complaints. Take pictures of license plates, and keep receipts and documents.
“We want to make sure that they do keep up with their conversation's documentation, photographs contracts give these things to us, so that we can pursue charges against those individuals,” said Crystal Holmes with the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office.
Price gouging is another thing to look out for.
“They may just look at your project and say, 'yes all that is going to cost $10,000,' when they haven't actually stepped up and looked at it or itemized it at all,” Holmes said.
Your contractor should detail everything out and your insurance adjuster can help you figure out if the cost is right. But a rule of thumb, if the price is too good to be true, it probably is.
“Even if you think you found a contractor, you want get at least two other bids. Get three bids who believe to be legitimate contractors and you can avoid price gouging,” Williams said.
The sheriff's office also recommends using local contractor's and paying with credit cards because many of those companies offer protections.