Roofing scams are still an unfortunate reality. Luckily, these scammers only make up a small percentage of the total population. For businesses, it's those few people that give everyone in the roofing industry a bad reputation. We have as many con artists as any other industry, but we have found that there are a few things to look for that will keep you safe.
The Roofing Scam
One of the worst kinds of crooks we have come across is what we call the "door-to-door roofing salesman". Another name for them is the "storm chaser" or "fly-by-night roofer."
This term is given to the roofer or company that goes into an area because of natural disaster, typically a hailstorm in our industry, and stay for only a few months. Though some of these people may have good intentions, the problem is they are not available if any problems arise with your roof.
We also see many of these people give warranties that are far longer then what manufacturer offers. This tactic is usually used to hook the customer into signing with them, even though they fully are aware that they will not be in the area to honor those warranties.
Another thing these scammers will ask for is partial or full payment upfront, only to skip town before any work has actually been completed.
How to protect yourself from the roofing scam
There are many things that you can do in order to protect yourself from these predators:
If after a storm you have received a lot of flyers, letters and other information, many of these from potentially legitimate companies. You will want to do a little research before signing anything.
a. On-line Presence
First, look on-line to see if the company has a professional website or are a member of any respectable roofing organization or association. For example, the National Roofing Contractors Association or the Colorado Roofing Association.
Also, check your local Better Business Bureau or Chamber of Commerce to see if there are any complaints against the company.
Check on-line reviews, such as Google, FaceBook and Yelp. If anyone has been scammed, you can bet they would have said something on one of these websites. NOTE: You need to view on-line reviews with skepticism, as reviews can easily be faked. Yelp has an unfortunate habit of hiding positive reviews, so be sure to check out their "reviews they don't recommend".
c. Phone Book
You can also look in your local phone book to see if the companies currently advertise. (You may want to go back 2-3 years if possible.) This will tell you if they have been in the area for a while. Most "door-to-door roofers" don't use this kind of advertising.
Ask the company for local references. One of the best references may come from your insurance agent or adjuster, because they deal with a lot of different companies in these kinds of disasters.
Most reputable roofing companies will not ask you for money up front. If they do, you may want to do a little more research to make sure they are legit. If a roofing company does request upfront payment for materials, we recommend not paying them until the material is on your property; i.e., on your roof or in your yard.
4. Liability, Worker's Comp
Last but definitely not least, ask the company for proof of general liability and worker's compensation. You would hate to be in the middle of a lawsuit if an employee gets hurt and doesn't have the proper coverage.
Be safe. Check a company out. Though there are many things you should check prior to hiring a roofing contractor, once a company from your area is found, the job should be basically worry free. Most jobs will be complete within a couple days and your surrounding property left in the same condition it was found.