Texas State Board of Plumbing Examiners and Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation

Texas homeowners: Be wary of fraud by unlicensed contractors

Bad contractors who operate fly-by-night companies can descend upon storm-ravaged areas to take advantage of those in need.

HOUSTON — As Houston residents return home to begin the long process of cleaning up from Hurricane Harvey's aftermath, Houston has another threat looming over the city: bad contractors who operate fly-by-night companies that descend upon storm-ravaged areas to take advantage of those in need.

Longtime local companies such as Abacus Plumbing, Air Conditioning and Electric are inundated with calls around the clock from people in need of all kinds of help since Harvey hit Houston.

"As part of the Houston community, our hearts and prayers are with all Houstonians during this challenging time, and we are very proud of all the volunteers at our own company as well as the entire city of Houston who are stepping up to this tremendous challenge of rebuilding,” said Alan O'Neill, CEO of Abacus Plumbing. “But one thing we want to make clear to Texas and Houston homeowners and businesses alike is don't be taken advantage of by unethical contractors who are not local or licensed in Texas.

“We constantly see firsthand the result of faulty contractors who take homeowners’ money and leave them with a huge mess, often with serious property damage or in physical harm's way. It's not hard to take extra precautions when selecting a contractor, especially now, as hundreds of 'contractors' try to take advantage of their situation."

Abacus suggests the following:

First, only work with a licensed company who can provide written estimates along with valid, current Texas contractor or plumbing licenses you can check. This will reduce your risk significantly.

• For Texas HVAC, electrical, and most other contractors you can search the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation.

• For Texas plumbers, you can search the Texas State Board of Plumbing Examiners

Second, according to Better Business Bureau Houston President Dan Parsons: "We strongly urge you check with the BBB first before hiring a business to do repairs on your property. Go to and search for a business category or a specific business. We also strongly urge you to hire a BBB Accredited Business first, which has gone through extra levels of scrutiny and background checks."

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