Owning a home is a rewarding achievement, but it comes with its own challenges of maintaining the house’s upkeep. And some take advantage of that worry by preying on and conning homeowners.What Are Roofing Scams?
Roofing scams are a frequent fraud to scare unsuspecting homeowners into thinking their roof needs repair or they need a roof replacement when they don’t. Often there is little to no damage, and the scammer will take the money and leave without any work, or the work is of inferior quality.
Below are some common roofing scams and how to spot them.
Homeowners who live in areas recently hit by a storm or have frequent storms are prime targets for scammers called storm chasers.
As their name implies, they follow big storms and seek to ‘help’ those affected by offering roof repairs. First, they’ll go door to door or even make phone calls asking about the damage your roof has. Then, they’ll provide a free roof inspection where they’ll discover damage from the storm.
Claiming they can give you a discount once you’ve filed a homeowners insurance claim, they pressure homeowners into this deal that seems too good to be true during a time of need.
Remember that these frauds want to take as much money as possible for little to no work and cost. As a result, the roof will end up in worse condition than it initially was, even if the storm had damaged it.
Similar to the storm chaser’s claim, some con people will tell the homeowners that they noticed the roof damage while working on another nearby. So they offer a quick look. Sure enough, there’s damage that needs to be taken care of quickly.
Regardless of any damage, this opens the path for them to start their scam. Then, to further ensure their ploy, some even cause the damage themselves.
Some roofing contractors use materials that were stolen or are of poor quality, which inflates their profits. Then, they cover up the damage to mark the job off as done while charging a heightened price.
Research into contractors is always vital. Check their reviews and websites to see if they have a verified license. Usually, it’s illegitimate roofing contractors using this scam. Then, they make off with the money, and the homeowner has to pay to have the roof fixed twice.
Another illegitimate roofing contractor scam is to offer a low rate for the job. However, they’ll return and tack on more charges to that bill once work begins. Reasons like higher material costs, new damage they didn’t see before, and an endless stream of new problems. While fees can change, they shouldn’t pop in the middle of a job and shouldn’t keep escalating.
Like an unwanted door-to-door salesman, some contractors will knock and offer special deals for a limited time. This tactic is used to push the homeowner into signing a contract for the work their roof probably doesn’t need.
Large Upfront Payments
Having a roofing company ask for payment upfront is standard. A legitimate contractor will ask for a down payment to cover the cost of materials and beginning labor. This price is about 15-20% of the total costs.
However, if your roofing contractor asks for 50% or more as a large down payment, that couldn’t be a bigger red flag. Once they get the money, they’ll disappear at the first chance with no work done.
Insurance Fraud Scam
While there are several insurance fraud scams, one of these fraud roofers will involve double invoicing. First, they’ll submit one to the homeowner at a reasonable or lower cost. Then they’ll send one to the insurance company for too much.
Doing this is illegal and prosecutable. Despite any claim the contractor might make about getting a deductible out of the insurance claim to lower costs, a homeowner should never allow this. You should contact the insurance company as quickly as possible if fraud is suspected so you can take that appropriate action without suffering too great of a loss.
Deductible Scams and Contingency Contracts
These two roofing scams go hand-in-hand when used by frauds. The fine print on insurance company policies states that the deductible price has to be paid if there is one. So this fraud starts with the roofer telling you there’s no need to pay that deductible because they have a workaround.
That workaround is for their benefit, not the homeowner.
These lies can consist of claims that they won’t take a final payment or that the homeowner can keep the depreciation from the insurance.
The homeowner pays no insurance deductible but invoices the insurance for the work done, effectively stealing and submitting a fraudulent invoice.
The next part is the contingency contract. While a contingent contract isn’t a scam on its own, used like this, it is. Normally a contingency contract is null without insurance approval. But this contract comes from a con. Its fine print will state something along the lines that the homeowner has agreed to pay out of pocket for the expense.
So the homeowner has a legal binding to pay the contractor on top of the fees and possible jail time they’ll have from insurance fraud.
Avoid The Scam
A standard practice to help avoid roofing scams is to never accept a contract or deal from a random contractor knocking at the door. They shouldn’t be there if you didn’t specifically call them to do an inspection, but some homeowners fall victim to this scam because they don’t know better. But now you do. Send them packing before they even get a chance to scam you.
As homeowners, the responsibility of the house falls to them. So it’s easy to understand how they might fall for these roofing scams when they only want what’s best.
If you are trying to hire a reputable contractor, research into the contractor company! Make sure they’re a legitimate and verified practice. Look for reviews and see if they have official websites to locate their credentials.
Always be safe and mindful when looking to hire for repairs on the house.