Watch out for 'storm chasers' trying to profit off of your ice storm damage

The Better Business Bureau calls them "storm chasers," but these storm chasers are more interested in the aftermath. 

"Don’t just go and hire someone who walks up and offers to do the repair," Daniel Armbruster, spokesperson for AAA Texas.

With the ice from last week’s storm melted and the lights coming back on, homeowners may just be getting around to post-storm repairs. 

Tela Mange, spokesperson for the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation, noted for many residents it’s going to be electrical repairs. 

"There may be power surges that happened that knocked out some electrical equipment in your home that needs to be fixed before you can start plugging things back in," said Mange. 

Some damage to electrical transformers or lines will also be the homeowner’s responsibility depending on where the damage is located.

In the state of Texas, electricians must be licensed by TDLR. Insurance is required as well as a permit from the city before the work begins.

"There are a lot of folks who take advantage of situations," said Mange. "They know that, probably, electricians are really busy right now, and everybody's anxious to get their power back on, but don't take that chance."

Homeowners could also be dealing with tree damage or busted pipes.

"Be aware that there could be bad actors out there looking to take advantage of those who want to get those repairs done quickly," said Armbruster. "Watch out for anyone who asks for payment in full upfront, or they can't really provide you evidence of good business history, or they're not listed by the Better Business Bureau."

According to AAA Texas, homeowners can take initiative by calling their insurance company to get an estimate of the damage before making repairs. The insurance company may also be able to recommend a legitimate company. Homeowners can research any company they are considering on the BBB’s website. 

Homeowners should also get the company representative’s license plate number and get an agreement or contract in writing. 

The worst-case scenario can be costly and even dangerous.

"We've seen cases in the past where electrical work was done incorrectly by someone who wasn't licensed, and it ended up electrocuting a child," said Mange. 

Unlicensed activity can be reported to TDLR. Residents can also file a complaint with TDLR regarding licensed and unlicensed companies if repairs were not completed correctly or damage was caused. Complaints can also be filed with the BBB.