Roofing scam pandemics tend to sweep the nation following severe weather and storm damage. So far, there have been scams uncovered in all corners of the nation, focused especially on shingle roof repair situations. These scams are being pulled off by different companies and individuals, and usually first appear in the form of a knock on the door. The good news is, if you know what to look for, you can avoid being taken in by these scams.
The Down Payment Scam
The first common scam is one that includes a requirement for a down payment. In this case, a roofing contractor will make a bid on a roof repair project. He (or she) then charges a down payment, typically several thousand dollars, or asking for your ACV (actual cash value) from the insurance company. Once the money is received, the job is either deserted or completed hastily without passing code. Not only do you lose the money you pay as a down payment, but you will need to hire another contractor to replace the roof.
Here are some tips to avoid being taken in by this scam:
- NEVER pay a construction company up front! Wait until the work has been completed and passes inspection, whether you are working with roofing, siding, or gutters.
- Before hiring a roofing company, take the time to research them. Begin with the Better Business Bureau and Angie’s List.
- Keep in mind that if a price or a company looks too good to be true…they probably are. Ask for references to hear past experiences that other clients have had with the contractor.
- Ask to see their business license or check them online by searching for your local division of professional and occupational licensing.
- Make sure that a written and signed contract is included with any work order.
- Most importantly, before hiring a roofing contractor, make sure that you have valid company information such as a phone number, address, and preferably a website. A company should always be open about their basic information so that you can contact them if a situation arises.
The Mandatory Inspection Scam
These scam artists target manufactured homes because the homeowners often do not know who installed their roof. A scam of this sort often appears with a contractor approaching your home, claiming that your home is due for a mandatory inspection for your roof warranty. After inspection, the homeowner is presented with a report that specifies a need for extensive (unnecessary) repair that “the warranty does not fully cover”.
To avoid this scam:
- Know who installed your roof, as well as who the other contractors were who worked on your home. If an inspector comes by and cannot identify where your home came from, ask them to leave the property.
- Be familiar with your roof warranty. Keep a copy of this warranty to serve as a guideline if any repairs must happen. Nearly all base warranties enable you to choose your own contractor.
- Never allow anyone on your roof without first obtaining all of the required paperwork. Contact the roofing company to verify that the repair men are actual employees and were sent there for the reasons they claim.
- Roofing warranties do not typically include a task force of workers who are sent out to “check up” on things. Rather, they are in place to help a homeowner out if the roof suffers from a manufacturer or installation defect. 99.9% of the time, it is up to the homeowner to be proactive.
Free Roof Scam
In this situation, a roofing company claims to be able to offer you a ‘free roof’. After severe weather sweeps through the area, a contractor appears offering a free inspection (free inspections are common courtesies in the roofing industry). The report comes back that you need repair (may be true or false). However, the contractor informs you that he is able to waive your home insurance fees. With no deductible, he claims, you will get a free roof.
Unfortunately, this practice is labeled insurance fraud. You will end up paying every penny – and more.
- The homeowner is always responsible for the full amount of the deductible. Any contractor that tells you otherwise is fraudulent – or just plain uninformed.
- This scam may be included with the down payment scam. The insurance company is not liable for damages.
- Missouri passed a bill to avoid this type of insurance fraud associated with any sort of rebates etc.
- Again, check the contractor’s reputation through the Better Business Bureau or Angie’s List. If they have been conducting scams, it will most likely be reported there.
- Report the contractor’s “claim” to your insurance company. This may help to save other homeowners from being pulled in by the offer.
Roofing Thieves Scam (rare)
This scam involves door-to-door salesmen. Usually, one person will come to your door and offer a free roof inspection or repair. Once inside and consuming your attention, another person will come into your home searching for valuables such as money and jewelry they can put into their pockets. How to avoid this scam:
- Check a salesman’s identification when they approach you for work.
- Do not allow people into your home claiming to repair your roof for free. There is no such thing as a free roof repair.
- Before hiring an unfamiliar roofer, get a second opinion by a trusted contractor. Research all companies on the Better Business Bureau or Angie’s List.
In short – stay safe
In addition to these tips, you can also check with your local roofing delivery companies. These companies provide roofing materials to all contractors in the area, and they are typically familiar with which contractors can be trusted. Ask for the store manager and see if any of these roofers are who they would recommend they work in the industry daily.
Be smart about your hiring techniques when it comes to roof repair and replacement. If an offer sounds too good to be true – it probably is.
Working with a company you can trust can save you thousands in the long run by providing you with a quality roofing system that will last. Contact Bill West Roofing for a courtesy free roofing estimate if you have any concerns about your roof. We are happy to walk you through the options available to you.
Originally published: Oct. 22, 2012
Information updated: August 24, 2015