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9 Common Roofing Scams and How to Avoid Being Ripped Off

Published: 11/24/2020

roofing scams

When you need a new roof, it’s important to find a roofer that you can trust. Unfortunately, there are many different types of roof scams that cost homeowners thousands each year, creating an environment of extreme skepticism toward even the most legitimate roofers. So, how do you choose a roofer you can trust – one who won’t scam you and will deliver high-quality results?

While a healthy skepticism can help protect you, your best defense is being informed. We’ve gathered several of the most common roofing schemes to help arm you with the information you need to make a smart decision regarding your roof. This list is not exhaustive, as new scams are developed all the time, but aims to serve as an eye-opening reference so that you know what to watch for next time you’re looking to hire a roofer.

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1. The Storm Chaser

While people generally know about this scheme, many still find themselves falling for it. A storm chaser is an individual or organization that follows bad weather. Upon learning of a bad storm, wind or hail, they will head to the towns that were affected, knocking on doors to solicit roofing contracts from homeowners. Typically, roofers who operate this way breeze into town and leave just as quickly. If they manage to complete the work, it’s usually subpar and a total waste of your money.

To spot a storm chaser, be wary of anyone who comes to your door with a cold (unsolicited) pitch. They may try to convince you that your roof needs to be replaced right away, hoping to elicit a panic buy. If you find yourself tempted to buy, ask to see their roofing license and proof of insurance. If they hedge on producing those items, or if anything else feels “off” there is a good chance you’ve got a storm chaser at your door.

roofing scams to look out for

2. The Bait-and-Switch

Take extra care if a company offers a free inspection then reports excessive or urgent damage that they can charge you for. Free inspections and estimates are commonly offered by legitimate roofing companies; however, it never hurts to get a second or even a third opinion to ensure you’re not being scammed into paying for more work than what is needed.

 

roofing fraud

3. The Shoddy Workmanship

The biggest problem with this type of scheme is that you often won’t know you’ve been scammed until the roofer is long gone. This is because there are often ways that the roofer masks the substandard workmanship until the next bad storm. If you have a roofing problem that you’re aware of, do your research and due diligence before hiring any roofing company. Read reviews from previous customers, check for complaints with the BBB, and maybe even ask people you know who they recommend.

 

roofing fraud

4. The Suspicious Down Payment

Many reputable roofing companies work with lending partners to be able to offer financing on your new roof. If a roofing company requires you to pay a hefty down payment before performing an inspection or without extending any offer for financing, this is a red flag.

A legitimate roofing contractor will typically expect no more than 20% of the total job cost as a deposit for the job. If a substantial down payment is requested on a job that has been quoted at a low price, this is probably a scam. If you hand over the requested down payment, there’s nothing stopping the scammer from taking your money and disappearing without performing any of the promised work.

how to avoid roof scams

5. The Double-down Scammer

If a roofer says that they’ll waive your insurance deductible or otherwise provide you with a super-inexpensive – or even free – roof by claiming that your homeowner’s insurance will cover the costs, you’re most likely dealing with a scammer. This type of scam isn’t just underhanded, it’s insurance fraud, which is illegal. What the scammer is doing is attempting to cheat the system by submitting two different invoices to you and the insurance company, with the lower one being submitted to you and a higher one sent to the insurance company in an attempt to double-collect on the job.

insurance claims roofing

6. The Other Insurance Scammer

If a contractor begins asking you to sign an Assignment of Benefits (AoB) right away, be very, very wary. An AoB grants permission to a third party (in this case, a roofing contractor) to act on your behalf in regards to filing an insurance claim, making repair decisions and collecting insurance payments for said repairs. You are not a part of any of these decisions if you sign an AoB.

While an AoB can have benefits (for example, if a roofing emergency happens while you’re away, signing an AoB can give a trusted roofer the authority to act in your best interests), it’s a major red flag if a roofer you’ve just met pressures you to sign an AoB.

how to avoid roof scams

7. The Compulsory Inspection

If a roofer tells you that you’re “required by law” to have your roof inspected in an attempt to solicit your business, it’s a scam. Don’t fall for it! If it’s been longer than a year since your last roof inspection, find a legit, reputable roofing company and schedule a professional inspection to make sure your roof is in good shape. Don’t hesitate to leave feedback in the form of a review on Google or the BBB if you encounter one of these scammers. You could save another homeowner from being swindled.

insurance claims roofing

8. The Sob Story

A legitimate roofing contractor won’t typically ask for more than 20% of the total cost of the job as a deposit before work has commenced. A scammer, on the other hand, will offer excuses to try to get you to pay up front. They might say they need the money to buy materials or to hire people to do the job. They may even play on your emotions, guilting you into forking over the money with tales of being scammed by homeowners in the past.

None of these things are your problem, and it’s not just unprofessional for a contractor to do this, it’s also a huge red flag that you’re dealing with a scammer. Chances are, if you hand over the money, the roofer will disappear with your money, never to be seen or heard from again.

roof scam

9. The ‘Too Good To Be True’ Low Estimate

A common roofing scam involves a roofer giving you a ridiculously low estimate. This will be substantially lower than any other roofer’s quote and should be approached with extreme caution. This is often a scammer’s method of locking you into a contract with vague language that allows them to add additional fees and costs later (such as those needed for “unforeseen circumstances” or “materials price increase”). In this same vein, always be wary of roofers that provide you with a quote that is far higher than what other companies estimate.

roofing fraud

Who is Vulnerable to Roofing Scams?

FLORIDA ROOFING scams

While roofing scams can happen to anyone, anywhere, there are some geographical locations that are more susceptible targets. For example, a well-populated coastal city or a city that happens to experience more severe weather occurrences (wind, rain, hail, snow, etc.) is a more likely target than others. Dishonest roofers consider homeowners in these areas to be low-hanging fruit, as it’s typically easier to disappear in a large, densly populated area that keeps legitimate roofers busy.

Another vulnerable group is the elderly. Elderly homeowners, especially those who live alone, are prime targets for scammers of all types. Along the same line, owners of older homes who aren’t home improvement-savvy are also likely to land in the sights of scammers.

Avoid Being Scammed

Your best defense is to be informed. Always check out the company’s website, read online reviews, check for complaints on bbb.org and also the county clerk’s records for any past or pending lawsuits. All of this research can be done online in minutes. Furthermore, the company should be happy to provide references to back up their workmanship and work ethic.

Always ask for their roofing license and insurance details. You can verify their licensing on your state’s licensing board website. A list of licensing board websites for the US states can be found here LINK TO https://roofonline.com/roofing-contractor-license-verification. A legitimate roofing company will be glad to provide this information to you.

Don’t rush into anything. If you suspect a problem with your roof, begin gathering information and quotes from different companies to make sure you’re not only getting the best deal but also the best fit for you. Don’t wait until you have a roofing emergency to start looking for a roofer.

Take the lead with your insurance company. When you insist on speaking directly with your insurance agent, it’s much less likely that insurance fraud can occur by the roofer. Don’t sign anything before speaking to your insurance agent first.

Read the fine print. Never sign any documents that you have not fully read and thoroughly understand. Scammers will often present you with a contract, pressuring you to sign it before reading it carefully. Sometimes, they’ll give you a “summary” of what is (supposedly) contained in the document to get you to sign faster. They may also urge you to forgo research and sign quickly by overplaying the urgency to get your roof fixed ASAP.

A Roofing Company You Can Trust

Armed with these tips and your own research, your search for a roofer should go quite smoothly, with all parties happy with the outcome of the job. As Sarasota and Bradenton’s trusted residential and commercial roofer, AKVM is happy to provide you with our licensing, insurance, references and honest answers to any questions you may have. We’ll always remain worthy of your trust and will do the job properly, on time and on budget. When you need a roof replacement from an honest, reputable roofing company, contact AKVM today.

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how to avoid roof scams