Roofing Scams

April 28, 2014
 Roofing scams target the elderly

When 79-year-old Lorraine from Queens, paid a “roofer” $1,950 to clean her rain gutters, fix the flashing on the roof, and waterproof her shingles, she thought she was getting a great deal. As it turns out, it was the “roofer” that came out on top. It started one day when a man stopped her as she was going into her house. He told her was a roofer doing work for one of his neighbors but happened to notice some damage to her roof. Looking back, Lorraine was very embarrassed that she fell for it. Sadly, roofing scams like this are very common and they occur all over the country. While they come in all shapes and sizes, the target for these scams is almost always the elderly.

Tips for spotting a scam

Though many of these scammers are very good at what they do, there are still some tricks for spotting them. Here are some things to watch for:

  • Up front payment. A reputable roofing company will normally accept payment only after completion of the work. If a contractor is especially pushy about being paid up front and especially if they are asking for cash or a check made out to an individual rather than a business, you should be wary

  • No company logo. While not every roofing company will have a logo and uniform, most reputable ones will. Watch for company markings on their truck or uniforms

  • License and insurance. The construction industry is highly regulated to prevent scams like the one Lorraine was victim to. Most states require roofers and other types of construction companies to have a license in order to do business. A roofing company should also carry insurance so that you won't be liable for any damage they may cause to your property or for any on-the-job injuries. Don't be afraid to ask your contractor to show their license and proof of insurance

  • Chamber of commerce and the BBB. If you are still unsure, you can always check with the Better Business Bureau in your area or check with your local chamber of commerce to see if the roofing company is registered with them

Fortunately for Lorraine, the “roofer” returned her money when she threatened to involve the police but it doesn't always work out that way. If you know the signs to watch for you can be sure that you are working with a legitimate roofing company and not a scam artist.

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