Four types of common roofing scams that con artists will perform year after year
Every storm season year after year, homeowners fall prey to predatory con artists out there pulling roofing scams. These roofer con artists give the industry a bad name and their shenanigan schemes leave trusting families strapped for cash and stuck with a shoddy roof on their home.
Scammers often target middle income budget conscious homeowners trying to manage home repairs without breaking the bank. These con artists will seek out neighborhoods with a high percentage of senior citizens, areas in older neighborhoods, and places that are prone to, or were recently hit by, major storms.
A roofing con artist will prey on people’s fears that their homes are in danger or that reputable home improvement companies are too expensive and with a few thousand dollars down payment they can have a whole new roof. The person takes the money and is never seen or heard from again, disappears into thin air.
Typically, if a scammer does hang around an area they will come in and work quickly with low-quality materials, or sometimes simply start the job so it looks like something is going on and then once they have cleaned the community out they run for it.
Unethical roofers can be hard to spot because they come in the guise of being your friend and want to help you. They are typically great salesmen who can talk a dog away from a bone. However, if you read on, there are some clear warning signs that should set off alarm bells ringing in your head. Keep an eye out for these four types of common roofing scams that con artists will perform year after year.
1. Storm Chasers (Going After the Low Hanging Fruit)
Nervous homeowners can be easy pickings for opportunistic scammers after a damaging storm passes through an area. Some con artist roofers called storm chasers, follow bad weather events in search of damaged roofs. They frequently travel door-to-door, passing out leaflets and offering to repair or replace roofs that look damaged or, in some instances, roofs that are not damaged at all.
Part of the game a storm chasing con artist will play is to convince homeowners that they can get a new roof for a huge discount, or even free, by filing an insurance claim after a big storm. The roofer gets paid, the homeowner gets a new roof, even if it’s not needed, and the massive insurance company with billions of dollars cuts a check without batting an eye lash.
Be Careful of the work done by storm chasers as they are after the low hanging fruit, so the workmanship is often of very poor quality. The storm chaser con artist hits a neighborhood hard with sales and wants to replace as many roofs as possible for as little cost as possible and then get the heck out of town. The lifespan of these rapidly constructed roofs may be half that of a well-constructed roof, or much less.
Keep a sharp eye out in your neighborhood after a roof damaging storm passes through. You may have a damaged leaky roof, but you don’t want to rush into anything until you know for sure it’s the real deal. Storm chasers will try to take advantage of your anxiety in the aftermath of a storm, insisting that work must be done quickly. Instead, take your time, ask to see insurance and references in your area, check the status of their roofer’s license, and visit online reference sites to see if there are any complaints filed against them. Better yet call a local roofing company in your own community.
Also, something to look out for with this type of roofing scam. A desperate storm chaser will show up at your door unannounced and mention that they’ve just finished repairing another roof nearby. This con artist will claim to have extra materials close by, because of that convenience they want to offer you a deep discount to do your roof. This is a classic scam! Chase that con artist storm chaser off your property with the cops or a broom if need be.
2. The Low Starting Bid is a Sure Sign of Something Fishy Going On
Let’s face it a new roof is expensive no matter where you live. The material and labor costs don’t come cheap. Roofing is dangerous hard work and the material that is used for shingles is expensive stuff. So, if some contractor is offering you a tantalizingly low price, one that’s far lower than any other competitor in your area, something is not adding up right, red flag.
Almost always, once work begins, that price will magically start to creep up due to unforeseen this and unforeseen that. Problems magically appear and inflated material costs soon show up on the invoicing because they bought crap material but are charging you for the good stuff. And, granted, the costs of roofing materials do fluctuate, but a contractor shouldn’t attempt to increase the price for materials in the middle of your project, red flag.
So, again make sure you do your research first. Get several quotes and if you decide to go with the low bid like most people do then research that roofing business. Make sure you talk to various companies about their pricing schemes. Discuss everything with your contractor beforehand and include any potential curveballs in your contract. Typically, a reputable roofing company will provide you with one price that includes labor and material. Make sure they stick to it and do exactly what they say they will.
3. Mystery Damage and Unexplainable Happenings
Your roof seems like it’s in good shape, even after a big storm, the roof is not even that old. Then, one day, out of the blue, you have a roofer knocking at your door, claiming he just couldn’t help but notice the damage on your roof that needs to be fixed right away to avoid bigger issues from happening during the next storm.
This con artist is so glad that he just happened to be going by when he noticed the issues going on with your roof that if fixed right away will save you tons of money in the long run. This roofer points out some vague damage that you can’t really see, but claims it is a big red flag. Maybe this roofer will even offer to take a closer look and sure enough spends an hour on your roof and using all his equipment then comes down, grim-faced, claiming it’s a real mess up there.
Some shady roofers have been known to claim there is damage to a roof when there’s none, or not enough damage to warrant a full roof replacement. Others have even been caught generating damage themselves. These are the con artists that give home improvement companies such a bad name.
When the Good Samaritan roofer who just so happens to be driving by and spots serious damage to your roof from a moving vehicle shows up at your door with the twinkle in their eye. Tell them sure check it out then tell them you are going to have several other companies also come and check it out. And watch them when they are on your roof you don’t want them up there causing unnecessary havoc.
If you believe there is something to the claim, then get a second opinion. Under no conditions should you let a stranger on your roof, or should you sign a contract based on an out-of-the-blue, high-pressure sales tactic.
4. Insurance Fraud a Classic Case of Trying to Get Someone Else to Pay
There are various ways a roofing contractor can attempt to commit insurance fraud. One of the more common tactics employed by scam artists is submitting two separate invoices. So, the homeowner gets one invoice, the lower one and a more sizeable invoice is submitted to the insurance company.
If a con artist roofing contractor deliberately deceives or exaggerates an estimate to cover the cost of the deductible, then that is considered insurance fraud. Knowingly falsifying an estimate to allow for an increase in carrier payouts is insurance fraud. There are substantial criminal penalties for this type of fraud and hurts all parties involved.
Be very wary as all these types of scams are insurance fraud, and could be prosecuted, which means trouble for the homeowner. Sometimes, a roofing contractor will even claim that they’ll get enough money back from over-billing your insurance company to reimburse your deductible.
Make sure you always listen carefully to what a roofer is offering. If a contractor offers to pay your insurance deductible or offers other no-cost incentives, like a free roof, these can be signs of fraud.
Remember roofing con artists can be very effective with their scams. They move fast, they look and sound very professional, their documents seem to be in order, and they hit an area very hard.
Well those are my roofing scams to watch out for. Please comment below and let me know what you think. Have you been scammed by a roofing con artist, do you know of other scams that roofers employ? Let me know in comments below.
Also, if you want to learn more about the roofing industry sign up for one of my great roofing business classes. Thank you so much for reading.