5 Roofing Scams to Be Aware of and How to Avoid Them
Common schemes all business owners should know about
If there’s one thing we can count on it is the fact that if there is money to be made, people will always take advantage of a situation. Unfortunately, in many cases, this involves targeting people who are in distress or vulnerable. When disaster strikes, it rarely takes long before the vultures start circling. This is why the news is full of stories about people getting scammed right after a storm. Even building owners who never believed it would happen to them can fall victim to these crimes. Here we discuss common roofing scams and how to be vigilant.
The Unsolicited Inspection
You should always be wary of anyone who shows up at your door, especially if they want to climb up onto your roof and give you a free inspection. Because their goal is a sale, they will do what they can to prove you need a repair or replacement, including faking damage or showing you photos from another building’s roof. In some instances, these unscrupulous folks have been known to tear off shingles or even use a hammer to make it look as though a roof has been damaged by hail.
The low, low price
One group of scammers that loves bad weather is the out-of-town storm chasers. These are the people who pay close attention to reports to see which areas have been hit by wind and hail. They then show up and immediately start advertising their services, perhaps even in the form of door-to-door offers.
In addition to the weather, storm chasers will also do research on the sizes of buildings to find the square footage of their roofs, which allows them to know what it will cost to quickly – and cheaply – put up a roof. Building owners often jump at the low price, but the shoddy work typically doesn’t last long. And when problems inevitably arise, the roofing company is long gone.
The stolen down payment
If a roofing company tells you that they need a down payment before any work can begin, this is another red flag. In many cases, scammers will tell building owners they require this money for things like supplies or materials, convince them to sign over a check from their insurance company, and then vanish. People who have paid off their buildings are usually the target because the insurance company pays them directly, but crooks will also go after people who have a mortgage.
The elevator ride
Another reason to be skeptical of a price that seems too good to be true is because of a scam called the elevator ride. In this scenario, a roofing company will hook a building owner with a very low price for the job. And then when the work begins, costs start rising. They may say there are problems they weren’t aware of or perhaps the price of materials has suddenly gone up. By the time the work is over, that great deal isn’t looking so great any longer.
Even if everything seems up and up with a roofing contractor – you contacted them instead of the other way around, and they came out to your building for a consultation – this doesn’t necessarily mean they’re a reputable company. They may decide to use high-pressure tactics to get you to sign an agreement. This could involve offering a special deal or generous financing terms or perhaps mentioning how many other businesses in the area have recently gotten new roofs. The goal is to get you to sign a contract before you have the chance to get estimates from any other companies.
5 ways to avoid becoming a victim
Have your guard up
There are many more reputable roofing companies than scammers, but you know what they say about rotten apples. This is why it always pays to be cautious, especially if someone shows up unexpectedly. It’s possible they may actually be from a trusted roofing company, but you’ll have to verify this, which leads us to our second point:
Do your research
One of the best ways to avoid being scammed is to know exactly who you’re dealing with. Take the time to research the company. Look for information about their licenses, certifications, and insurance. Check their status with organizations like the Better Business Bureau. Try to find unbiased reviews and testimonials.
Be sure they have a physical address
Those shady storm chasers we mentioned earlier often don’t have physical addresses, and if you can’t find one, sirens should go off in your head. This is one reason to think about choosing a local company. With the roofing company nearby, you shouldn’t have difficulty getting in touch with someone with any concerns or questions.
Don’t get pressured into doing anything
If a person is pushing you into something you’re not comfortable with, walk away. Or, if they’re at your building, tell them to walk away. Roofing companies, of course, want your business, but if their sales tactics involve pressure, this gives you excellent insight into who you will be working with.
Get written estimates from different companies
Scammers often prey on people’s ignorance. If you’ve never needed a roof repair or replacement before, you may have no idea what the job will cost. This is why it’s vital to talk to several companies and get their estimates in writing so they can then be compared to one another. You will probably find that most estimates will be similar, so if there is one drastically lower than the others, this may be the warning you need to stay away.
If your building was struck by a storm, you will want to have your roof repaired as soon as possible. But rushing into an agreement with a contractor is often a good way to become a scam victim. Instead, take as much time as you can to look at roofing companies in your area to find one that best fits your needs, and you will be comfortable working with. For an estimate on your roofing project from one of the most trusted roofing companies in northern New Jersey, contact Peck Brothers.