Ever go to an ATM to withdraw cash and start walking back to your car?
You can feel like you’ve got a target on your head. ATMs are mostly only there to dispense cash. So, when someone sees you at one, they know you’ve got cash money on you.
Well, the same holds true for the roof of your home.
A damaged roof a giant ATM for those who work roof scams.
Roof Scams: Thieves in Your Neighborhood
Some are “legitimate” contractors who simply do terrible work, but many are door-to-door scam artists.
Some even travel the country in packs, showing up in the aftermath of a tornado or hurricane or hail storm to take advantage of the unsuspecting. This usually means the elderly, the recent immigrant, or the new homeowner.
Since getting your roof replaced is not something that happens often, most folks know little about the process.
It’s those big gaping holes in knowledge that allow these scams to work. And work they do: one man in South Carolina bilked five residents out of thousands of dollars apiece. Plus, he did it all in the same neighborhood!
Here are seven tips to make sure that you never get scammed when it comes to roofing repairs.
Don’t Talk to Strangers
Most roof scams are operated by people who aren’t even roofing contractors at all. Yet, in many cities, registration is all that’s required to be certified as a contractor.
In other words, just about anybody can call himself a roofer.
If the person at your door has an out-of-state license plate, is there with a relative, or offers you a free inspection or really cheap deal, beware. That’s red flag number one.
Not only one can anyone get certified as a contractor. In many places, anyone can get a logo painted on a truck.
Don’t hire a roofer who shows up unannounced at your door.
Take Pictures Immediately
After a bad storm passes, a lot of door-to-door scam artists will attempt to offer you a free inspection.
Then, they show you pictures of someone else’s home. Or worse, they may get up there and cause damage where there is none. At times, they may even make your existing damage worse!
This is to try and get as much money out of you as possible.
Know exactly what’s wrong with your roof first by taking pictures immediately after the weather clears. Telling them you have pictures already will nip many of these roof scams in the bud.
Never Write a Check
Even if you’ve never had work done on your roof, you probably know better than to just hand cash to a stranger.
However, a disturbing number of people suckered in by promises of cheap repairs will sign over a check from the insurance company.
This usually happens to homeowners who have paid off their mortgage. This is because scammers don’t want mortgage companies or anyone else involved.
That first check you get from the insurance company should be used to begin paying a reputable contractor. Then, they will then bill the insurance company for the rest.
Sign Nothing Right Away
A lot of high-pressure con artists working roof scams will try and tie you into a contract on the spot.
They won’t disappear overnight, like the guys who got a hold of your check. But they very possibly could do a subpar job that you’ll have to find yourself replacing sooner than you’d like.
if you’ve done the legwork yourself and found a reputable contractor who’s come and made an assessment, go ahead and get started. However, don’t sign anything brought to you by a complete stranger.
If someone comes to your door and presents you with a deal that seems too good to be true, it probably is.
But there’s nothing that says you can’t check up on them and get back to them later.
If you’re living with a partner or spouse, beware of any roofer who demands that both of you be there during the consultation. That’s another high-pressure gimmick.
A reputable contractor will have a local street address and local phone number.
Know Your Rights
A lot of disreputable contractors and flat-out scam artists will say you need to put a down payment on your roofing work. Never do this.
A reputable contractor will give you a detailed estimate, have you sign a contract, and then begin.
Beware also of contractors who keep changing the terms of the contract and asking for more money for things like materials.
Reputable roofers have fluctuations in material prices baked into the cost already. They usually know weeks ahead of time when the market’s going to fluctuate in that way.
Finally, if you do sign a contract, by law you have three days in which to back out of it, consequence-free. Roof scam artists won’t tell you that!
Fight Back Against Roof Scams By Being Prepared Now
Roof scams are horrible things.
It’s hard to imagine that anyone would consciously prey on disaster victims. But like the ATM, that hole in your roof tells them you have insurance money coming — and they want a piece of it.
Avoid strangers, high-pressure salesmen, and contractors who are hard to find or have no local history. Also avoid anyone who pressures you to sign a contract or offer payment today.
The only thing you should do today is to start looking for reputable roofers.
That way, that when and if the worst does happen, you’ll have competent, reliable, trustworthy people on the job.
You may already have storm damage and not even know it.
There’s no reason to get taken when you’re at your most vulnerable.
Prepare yourself ahead of time by finding a reputable roofing contractor in your area.That way, when you hear about these stories in the local news, you’ll have the peace of mind of knowing you’re ahead of the game.