Imagine you’ve worked hard your entire life to live in your dream home with your family. You work every day and enjoy relaxing at home at the end of the night with your family. Unfortunately, one day you notice a slight hole in your roof.
You aren’t too skilled in repair work so you decide to hire a roofing contractor to come to your home and perform some work in order to prevent the issue from worsening. But you didn’t look into the contractor you hired.
He says things like “Looks like you’re going to need a lot more work done than we originally thought.” And he spends hours on end atop your roof. After a week or two, you notice that the hole isn’t fixed, your roof looks even worse than before, and the contractor has stopped arriving at your home.
You call and call and call. No answer. You look for his company online and can’t find anything.
Then it finally sinks in.
You are a victim of a roofing scam.
These kinds of scams happen all the time all across the United States. These scammers are criminals and have no remorse for taking people’s hard-earned money. It’s not right but it happens so much. It’s important to know how to identify these illegal schemes and what to do if you come across a scammer.
Beware of Roofing scams
If you’re in need of roof repair or other roof maintenance jobs, you’re going to need to hire professionals. There are plenty of hardworking, experienced, and quality roofing workers out there, but there are a handful of fraudulent ones, as well.
Whenever you research roofing contractors, make sure you spend some time checking references, going over the quality of their work, and actually talking to them in person or on the phone. Many fraudulent contractors will scheme people into believing they are going to perform roof leak repair jobs and then will take the money and not finish the job or not do any work at all.
Roof replacement jobs can cost a significant amount of money, as well. So if you’re not working with a team of experienced roofing contractors, you might end up losing a ton of money and having an unlivable home because the roof is so damaged.
There are all kinds of illegal scams involving roofers. According to TC Palm, a Pompano Beach man has been accused of posing as a roofing contractor and stealing over $16,000 from local residents.
An unlicensed contractor was accused of taking thousands of dollars from three elderly people after telling them that they need to have significant work done to their roofs. Paul John, 52, of Pompano Beach, was arrested in late June on charges of organized scheme to defraud, grand theft between $20,000 and $100,000, and three charges of theft from a person 65 or older.
Records have shown that John is not a licensed contractor and doesn’t actually own or operate a roofing business in the state of Florida or anywhere else across the United States.
The Better Business Bureau (BBB) has started warning residents about upcoming roofing scams, especially as COVID-19 restrictions begin to lessen.
“It starts with a phone call or maybe a door-to-door visit from somebody who is a rep for a roofing company, and they tell the homeowner that they’re in the neighborhood doing somebody else’s roof, and they offer a free roof inspection,” said Susan Bach, a regional director for the BBB.
Here are some of the most common roofing-related scams to watch out for this year:
- Unnecessary Repairs — When this scam happens, the roofing contractor will create extra work for themselves by offering to repair roofing issues that aren’t actually broken. This scam can be extremely difficult to avoid if you don’t know much about roof maintenance. Instead of just hiring any home building contractors that you find, it’s imperative to do plenty of research early on to avoid scams like this.
- Inadequate Roof Repair — These kinds of repairs are difficult to identify and it could actually take a significant amount of time (or a major storm) for you and your family to discover that fraudulent work was performed on your roof. Since a roof is a multi-layered structure, it’s easy for a scam artist to make it look like the exterior of the roof is being repaired with new shingles or fresh paint, but they can neglect actually repairing the underlying structure of the roof. This can lead to all kinds of expensive future repairs and increased roof damage.
- Storm Chasing — Storm Chasers will show up on immediately after a severe weather warning has been issued. They will usually claim that they’re from the area but actually live in another town, city, or even state. Make sure you check their license plates and their phone numbers to ensure that any roofing contractors actually do work and live in your area. Just because a storm is approaching, doesn’t mean you’re always going to need roofing work done. Your roof should be secure enough to withstand all kinds of weather damage — so don’t jump the gun. You might need repair work after a storm, sure. But don’t just let storm chasers and scammers steal your money!The work done by storm chasers is often poor. The storm chaser hits a neighborhood and wants to replace as many roofs as possible for as little cost as possible and then gets the heck out of town. The lifespan of these quickly repaired roofs may be half that of a well-constructed roof, or much, much less. So make sure you’re never rushing into repairs before, during, or after any damage has occurred. Take your time and ensure that you’re hiring a professional contractor.
- Mystery Damage — Similar to unnecessary roof repairs, fraudulent contractors will often point out all kinds of rooftop damages that they have noticed “just passing by” that are tough to see to the “untrained eye.” This is such an obvious scam but some people can still fall victim to it.
- Overcharging — Unfortunately, there are no standard prices for roofing repair work. But scammers can offer extremely high quotes and sweet talk their way into you believing it’s a fair price. A good contractor will not charge you more money than the repair work will actually cost. So it’s best to get multiple quotes before hiring a contractor in order to avoid extremely high overcharges.
Beware of “Free Roof Inspections” Scams
If a roof inspection is free, it can’t be a scam, right? Not true. In fact, since scammers are often very creative and clever, they are coming up with all sorts of tricky ways to steal people’s hard-earned money.
“If you ask questions about where the business is located or how their services work, you’ll most likely be met with vague answers, or, if you are speaking on the phone, they may simply hang up,” said BBB officials in a press release about the free inspection warning. “If you accept the free inspection, the ‘inspector’ shows up at your house, and if they don’t find enough wear and tear to merit a whole new roof, they may fabricate it by tearing off shingles to mimic wind damage. Or they may simply show you pictures of someone else’s damaged roof.”
If you’ve been the victim of a roofing scam, report it on BBB Scam Tracker immediately. Your report will help alert others to the danger of this or other potential scams.
“Keep a close eye on previous reviews and any complaints other consumers might have had,” added BBB officials. “This is one of the best ways to know if a roofing company is reputable or just a cover for a scam.”
It’s Not Always the Roof
Roofing repair work scams are often one of the most common schemes in the U.S., but there are all kinds of fraudulent scams that can result in stress, damaged homes, and serious financial issues.
For instance, if you’re unaware of how to perform various work around your home, you will need all kinds of professional contractors to come to your home and perform repair work. Again, scammers are clever and they will pose as furnace repair professionals, plumbers, or electrical workers.
If you have to hire a professional plumbing service, again, do all kinds of research early on to make sure you’re getting a legitimate plumber coming to your home.
A quality plumbing service will have a great website, will be easy to contact, and will list all kinds of references online. Talk to family members or friends who have done work with certain plumbers at some point to ensure that they actually did a good job and weren’t being scammed.
Similarly, there are scammers all over the place that represent “legitimate” electrical services. Do not give any money to these scammers because all they are trying to do is steal your family’s cash and perform subpar electrical work or neglect to do any work at all.
If you really do your research, these scammers will actually be quite easy to identify. Don’t let anyone come into your home who you don’t trust and put your family’s finances and safety in danger. More than 56% of people paid cash for their last home repair or improvement. Make sure you’re checking for references, talking to contractors early on, and never exchange money before any work is done.