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Warning to Storm Victims: Beware of Fraud

It’s the season for severe storms in Texas, and AARP is alerting consumers about potential home repair ripoffs and other scams following natural disasters.

It’s unfortunate, but the aftermath of a disaster attracts opportunists and scammers. Now is an important time for Texans to ready their homes, families and businesses for the worst that Mother Nature may throw their way--and to protect themselves from fraud.

Too often, criminals pose as insurance inspectors, government officials or building contractors to prey on consumers and steal money or personal information. Older Americans are especially targeted for fraud and scams, which is why AARP provides an education and awareness program to arm people with tools and resources to fight back and keep con artists at bay.

One place to learn more about protecting yourself is at . Whether or not you’re a member of AARP, you can sign up by calling the AARP Fraud Watch Network Hotline toll free at 1-877-908-3360, and start receiving Watchdog Alerts immediately.

There’s good reason this month to stay alert. Texas has been hard hit by rainstorms and damaging hail. The good news is that there are things to look out for. The Texas Department of Insurance website walks you through how to prepare for a storm, review coverage, and where to safely start after the storm hits.

If damage to your property has already taken place, consider these tips from TDI:

•            Call your insurance agent or company as soon as possible to report damage. Follow up with a written claim to protect your rights under Texas law. If you need financial help, ask your agent for an advance payment. If you have a separate wind and hail policy, report claims to TWIA at 1-800-788-8247. If you have a separate flood policy, report claims to NFIP at 1-800-638-6620. •            Make a list of your damaged property. Take pictures and video of the damage if possible. Don’t throw away damaged items until your insurance adjuster has seen them.



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