First, let me give credit where credit is due. Many of these tips came from a great article written by North Texas Roofing Contractors Association after the last big hail storm we had in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex. I have see this article pop up in many different places, but the accuracy of the below scams are still very true. I have added scam #6 because it’s an often overlooked scam that roofing companies often use.
After every large North Texas hail storm, roofers flood neighborhoods with salespeople and flyers, trying to drum up business in one of the few states left in the country without some sort of state licensing requirement for roofers. As part of its ongoing “Who’s On Your Roof?” consumer awareness campaign, NTRCA compiled a list of the top roofing scams that have been reported to the organization from members and homeowners over the years.
1) Contingency Contracts
Contingency contracts are a common practice among shady roofing companies, tying homeowners to the roofing contractor in the event that the homeowner’s insurance company pays for a roof replacement. The roofing company may promise “free” emergency repairs if a homeowner will sign an agreement or may insist that the homeowner sign an agreement before the contractor inspects the roof. In the fine print, details about the “contract” are written.
2) Contractors Asking for Money Upfront
If a contractor asks for money upfront, that could be the sign of a potential scam. The elderly, in particular, are often targeted by scammers who get payment (partial or in full) upfront and then never return or complete the work. Homeowners should beware of paying anything upfront or making a final payment before a job is complete. In some cases, a partial payment upfront is not cause for alarm, such as 1) when a partial payment is required for materials, after they have been delivered to the project location and 2) if a special, high-end product is required, such as a specialty type of slate material.
3) Sales Lead Generation Companies
A newer type of scam reported to NTRCA is one where lead generation companies, disguised as “roofing damage experts” call areas that have received storm damage. They call and use a script that carefully avoids identifying themselves by a company name and tell homeowners “we’ll be in your area next week.” When the homeowner agrees to an appointment with the no-name company, that company turns around and sells the lead to a roofing company, which could be a legitimate roofing contractor…or not. NTRCA recommends that if consumers get a call like this that they simply ask, “What company are you representing?” and “What is your address?” If they hesitate or side-step the question, NTRCA recommends that the homeowner simply hang up.
4) Roofing Companies Acting As Insurance Adjusters
Another popular scam is one where roofing contractors act as insurance adjusters and claim they can help homeowners negotiate or “work” their claim. This practice is illegal – a single company/person cannot act as both a homeowner’s roofer AND their insurance adjuster. In June, 2012 the Texas Department of Insurance issued a bulletin indicating that it is targeting contractors and roofing companies that “have been advertising or performing acts that would require them to hold a public insurance adjuster license.”
5) Storm Chasers – Here Today, Gone Tomorrow
In Texas, anyone can hang up a “shingle” and call themselves a roofing company. And when storms hit in North Texas, we see an influx of out-of-town roofers (a.k.a. storm chasers), who “work the storm” and then leave town not long after the storms do, unable and unwilling to service any kind of warranty they promised. Similarly, we also see “in-town” storm chasers, who may be from the area, but have no roofing expertise, yet suddenly jump into the roofing business simply because there is significant opportunity to make money. Pick a company that is local and a member in good standing with a professional organization.
6) Not Having Valid Insurance
There is one more important scam people often overlook. Make sure you get proof of valid general liability and Workman’s Comp insurance before letting a roofing company on your roof. By valid I mean call to verify the policy is in force. If a contractor is hurt on your property they may be able to come after you for damages or if they damage your property you need protection. Many roofers start an insurance policy to get proof of insurance and then stop paying their premiums so the policy is no good. Don’t fall for this trick…call and verify.