1. They chase storms around.
Also known as ‘roofing gypsies,’ these “roofers” travel around the country following storm paths and searching for vulnerable homeowners to deceive. They’ll show up at your doorstep the day after a powerful storm with brochures in hand, offering to look at your roof for a free quote. They’re hoping to convince you to hand over your money on their promise to begin work soon. However, they have no intention to return. In a few days, after they’ve scammed enough people, they’ll move on to the next storm path. But before they take off, they disconnect their phone number and website, leaving no trace.
When a hail or wind storm hits, you could be susceptible to a visit from these types of con artists. If you suspect a storm chaser has paid you a visit, thoroughly research their background and claims before signing a contract with them. Google them, read their reviews, find their place of business (be wary of a P.O. Box business address), make a visit to their office, and call their number to ask for a list of references. If you’re still not sure, opt for a roofer who has built an evident ethical reputation.
2. They ask for money upfront.
Yes, most legitimate roofing companies will ask for deposits on signed roofing contracts, but never the entire balance’s worth. Roofers who scam will ask for all the money you owe before they begin work. This gives them free rein to take your money and run.
Never hand over your full contract’s price upfront. And never sign a contract claiming that you will do so. If it is not in your contract, then you can refuse to pay your balance all at once.
3. They ask that you let them onto your roof.
A majority of trustworthy roofing contractors will offer a free quote and ask if they can inspect your roof to provide an accurate price estimation. But you should never allow a contractor on your roof who you have not thoroughly researched and vetted. This is because conning contractors can worsen existing damage or create new damage so that they can inflate their quote. Some will even show you pictures of a damaged roof claiming it’s yours, when it’s another home’s roof.
Offering a free quote is normal. But an aggressive salesman, who remains vague about their business, could be trying to scam their way onto your roof and inflate your damage. Always do your research on the business before you give them permission to step foot onto your property.
4.They overcharge you.
This is the most common, but the easiest scam to avoid. These deceitful roofers get away with overcharging homeowners who don’t do their homework.
Not sure if you’re being overcharged? Simply call up surrounding roofing competitors to get a general idea of what their roofing services would cost. If most of the prices are drastically lower than the bid you received, then you can presume that you’re being duped.
5. They push you to accept their offer.
A trustworthy roofer will offer you their best price possible without being pushy about it. Dishonest roofing contractors will offer a discounted price just for you, on the condition that you sign the contract, right then and there. Their forceful pitch will have you feeling hurried, guilty, or stressed. These kinds of contracts usually include misleading information, special discounts, and expiring credits – all tell-tale signs of a scam.
An honest contractor knows it’s your decision to have your roof serviced, and they won’t pressure you to sign a contract. You should feel comfortable with your roofer, not hassled.
6. They “play the system” with your insurance company.
Roof scammers will use insurance fraud to offer you wildly cheap or even sometimes free repairs/roofs. These con artists will create two separate bills – one for you and one for your insurance company. Some will even convince you to have them pay your insurance deductible.
They then hand over the highly inflated bill to your insurance company and collect money from your insurance company to get you a cheap or free roof. This may sound like playing the system, but it is against the law and can have you and your roofer prosecuted. You make yourself an accomplice when you willfully accept a waived deductible. Don’t walk, but run from any sketchy practices like this.
7. They increase your contract’s price as your project develops.
This scammer will offer you an extremely low rate, much lower than any other roofer in town.
But as your roof project proceeds, the contractor will claim they need more money for unforeseen problems, complications, and increases in cost for materials. These surprise costs continue to occur, and soon enough you’re paying much more than what the other fair-priced roofers would have charged.
In worst-case scenarios, the types of roofers will completely remove your roof and will force you to pay their prices to get your roof back. Always check with other roofers in your area to see where their prices stand. If your roofer is way below their prices, then they may be scheming to double that money back through extra costs.
8. They leave out crucial contract details.
Don’t expect the contractor to have every detail written in your roofing contract. Sneaky roofers will purposely leave out verbal promises and details to better serve themselves. Even if you have handshaked on certain promises, scammers understand that the only thing that binds them is the written, signed contract, and supposed conversations will not hold up in court.
Read, and read again the fine print to ensure that it includes everything you and your roofer have agreed upon.
9. They refuse to sign a contract.
You and your roofing contractor should have a legally binding contract stating everything you expect from each other. It should always be signed by both parties before any work begins. If a roofer claims that a contract is not needed, do not proceed to work with them. If they refuse or “keep forgetting” to sign the contract, it is best to move on to using a different roofer. Without a contract, you are allowing yourself to be scammed without proper proof to back you up in legal action.
Remember these tips to avoid being scammed by a roofer:
- Get recommendations from people you trust. Ask your friends and family who they use.
- Get multiple estimates. Call up surrounding roofers to ask for the prices they offer.
- Get everything in writing. Read contracts twice and don’t sign if there are ambiguities or omitted information.
- Do your research. Run your own background check on the roofer. Visit their website and read local reviews from Google, Yelp, Angie’s List, and more. Look
- for a phone number and a real address to be sure that the website is not a ploy.