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Need repairs from the winter storm? Be smart, don't get scammed by shady contractors

Check contractors thoroughly before hiring them to repair your home. Real contractors will usually not ask for a deposit before begin working on your home.

COLLEGE STATION, Texas — Following the damage the freeze brought last week, some people in the community still have broken pipes and ceilings. 

In a time of need, it may be easy to fall prey to scams.  

“Typically the most common scams are requesting a deposit from a homeowner and not performing the work, just taking the deposit especially in times of trouble like right now where there’s flooding and frozen pipes and things of that nature so you could see a lot of people come out of the woodwork,” said Aggieland Contracting Founder Chris Aversa. 

Contracting scams can appear in various ways. One way to check if they are legitimate is to see if they are actually locally based. 

“They’ll claim that they have a local address, and that’s one of the biggies right there, that you could go check the address that they’re telling you they have because a lot of times it’s just a PO box that they’ve rented," said America's Choice Roofing Sales Manager Michael Hubbard. 

Real contractors will also usually not ask you for a deposit before they start making the repairs you need.  

“A real contractor is going to give you a written proposal before they give you any money, and like I said, for a job of this size they shouldn’t be asking for any deposits to begin with but they’re going to give you a written proposal. They’re going to have you sign an agreement obviously between contractor and homeowner that commits both of them to the project and to the scope of work as well as the price, and then they won’t ask for full payment till completion," said Aversa. 

Another way to defraud a scammer is to get multiple voices on board before you hire someone. 

“You want to use reputable sources. Verify your contractors you are using. Don’t be afraid to get multiple bids and contract estimates from people because it is your property. You might as well take advantage of all the people that do the work. Verify with your insurance too if you’re going to as well,” said Bryan Police PIO Kole Taylor. 

He added that in order to solicit in Bryan, you must have a permit. If a scammer does approach your house, you can ask them to show that permit. 

FEMA advises you to not pay contractors through gift cards or re-loadable debit cards. Most of all, never give out your personal information over the phone.