Don't Fall Victim to Fraudulent Roofers
Your roof is an essential part of your home. You want to ensure it is in prime condition to protect you and your family from the elements. Roofing scammers prey on unsuspecting homeowners by creating false claims of damage and instilling fear. Do not leave yourself vulnerable to scammers who will do shoddy work and leave you with a big bill, along with a $5,000 fine for breaking the Florida roofing law. Unlicensed contractors are on the rise in the Florida, targeting homeowners and propelling insurance rates. As scammers grow more creative, a variety of well-crafted approaches are tricking an increasing amount of homeowners into unwarranted roof repairs and replacements. We have a few tips to save yourself from the financial burden and heartbreak of a roofing scam.
Contractors Requesting Money Up Front
Requesting full payment up front is typically a red flag. This scam frequently targets the elderly. After a scammer receives their money, they vanish and never complete the roofing service. A partial payment may be requested in rare instances of a contractor needing a specialty material, but payment is typically requested after the material is delivered to the site. Other than a unique circumstance, contractors should never ask for payment until after the job is started. Contractors generally have the materials and resources to do the job. Always do your research and scan websites like the BBB for reviews and complaints.
Scammers chase storms around the country and take advantage of homeowners’ misfortunes. They rarely complete their work, and if they do it is not done properly. If you need follow-up maintenance, they are already long-gone. These roofers appear out of nowhere, collect your money and run. Storm chasers are typically not local, and have no physical business address. Always ask for license and insurance information, and make sure they are not operating under a P.O. Box address.
Door to Door Sales
When a person goes door-to-door on behalf of a company and offers inexpensive roofing services, this person is likely not a real contractor. The fraudulent roofer will offer a free inspection just to gain access to your roof and possibly inflict damage. Scammers can manufacture damage by using ball peen hammers to imitate hail damage or tear off shingles and claim wind damage. These door-to-door salesmen usually have pictures of damaged roofs ready to show you, and claim the roof is yours.
Insurance Claim Negotiators
Roofing scams raise insurance premiums for everyone. Scammers may volunteer to negotiate with your insurance company on your behalf – this is a serious red flag that can get you into a world of trouble. Whenever you file a claim, your insurance company adds it to your record. When your insurance company discovers you filed a fraudulent claim with an unlicensed contractor, they can cancel your coverage immediately, as well as charge you with insurance fraud for submitting false documents for home repair. Always be sure to have your insurance company come out to assess damage before you sign any paperwork with a roofing company. Never sign an AOB (Assignment of Benefits) contract; this relinquishes your rights and allows the contractor to make decisions on your behalf. The contract also enables the contractor to collect all the claim money from your insurance company. This costly claim will stay on your homeowner’s insurance record and affect future claims. When a roofer volunteers to pay your deductible or waive it entirely – run.
Rates Too Good to be True
A complimentary roof inspection and a lowball estimate for repairs can get you to commit. Scammers have perfected this shady practice. Once they hook you, surprise costs will continue to escalate until you are drowning in invoices. Reputable roofing companys won’t surprise you with hidden costs. You should also be wary if a roofer tries to pressure you to commit to a contract. A contract requires extensive reading and reviewing, and a legitimate roofer won’t use bogus high pressure sales tactics to force you to commit to terms that haven’t been closely read.
If your contractor claims the company bookkeeping isn’t equipped to accept credit cards, this is a major red flag. Respectable contractors accept credit card payments. If your contractor insists on cash, there is a bad reason behind it, like not wanting to leave a trail. Another telltale red flag is when a roofer charges you by the hour for services. You should be given an all-inclusive estimate based around a well thought out strategy.
Roofing scams are an increasingly profitable business, especially in Florida and other areas with active hurricane seasons. Always be sure to research roofing companies extensively before hiring a contractor to handle your repairs. Consumer-driven websites, BBB ratings and your insurance provider’s referral list are great avenues to go down when searching for a reputable roofer. The FRSA is also a great resource to help you find a licensed and insured roofer in your area. Whatever company you choose for your roofing needs should have an online presence, good customer reviews and be BBB-accredited.