In the aftermath of the severe storm that hit North Texas on Tuesday, scammers started taking advantage of residents’ cleaning efforts. On Thursday the Grapevine Police Department warned residents about possible fraud. 

North Texas city public safety crews and police and fire Departments in North Texas are working together this s week to assist residents and business owners that suffered tornado damage to stay safe. In Grapevine, one of the most affected cities in the area, a shelter was opened for people who temporarily lost power in their homes and fire units kept traveling through neighborhoods to assess further damage. 

But while some are working hard to keep the community safe, others see an opportunity to make a quick buck. 

After noticing many roofing companies in neighborhoods, the Grapevine police suggested getting estimates in writing and never paying the full price upfront to ensure the work gets done by the contractor. 

According to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), after natural disasters and severe weather scammers may try to impersonate government disaster assistance agencies, insurance companies, representatives of charities or even contractors.

The FCC shared tips for residents to stay alert:

  • If you receive a phone call know that:
    • Officials with government disaster agencies never call nor text asking for financial information.
    • There are no fees required for applying for disaster assistance from FEMA or the Small Business Administration.
    • Scammers can also pose as representatives for charities seeking donations for disaster relief.
  • What you should do:
    • If you receive a call from a supposed government official or an insurance company representative, hang up and call the official number of that agency.
    • Until you’ve confirmed you are speaking to a legitimate official, don’t share any personal information.
    • Never give policy numbers or coverage details and personal details to companies with whom you have no contract. 
    • Verify phone numbers for charities and information in social media posts.
    • Stay alert as the state of Texas does not require licenses from all contractors, although insurance is mandatory.

To report suspected fraud, call the FEMA Disaster Fraud Hotline toll free at 1-866-720-5721. If you need to report other fraudulent activities during or following a natural disaster, please notify FEMA at 1-866-720-5721 or disaster@leo.gov.

You can also file a complaint with the FCC about phone scams, or with the FTC about fraud.