Every year unsuspecting homeowners are targeted by scammers offering a “free roof.” These scams leave homeowners with a poor job done on their roofs and paying much more for the repairs or replacement than they expected.
Roofing scammers will often target homeowners who are concerned about their budget and eager to stay under it. Scammers will look for neighborhoods that are mostly made up of older homes, or an area that has been recently hit with a major storm.
What is the “Free Roof” Scam?
A free roof probably sounds too good to be true, and the truth is – it is. If a roofer advertises or offers a free roof, this is insurance fraud and you as a homeowner can end up getting punished for a dishonest roofer’s fraud. There are a few ways roofing scams may be presented to homeowners:
- A roofer might offer to pay your deductible
- They may suggest inflating your insurance invoice to cover the deductible
- Or they might advertise deductible reimbursement
All of the tactics used above violate state law and as a homeowner you can be found guilty of insurance fraud if you are a part of this type of scam. Many roofers that engage in the free roof scam will also leave you with an incomplete or incorrectly installed roof when they leave town.
How to Keep Yourself Safe from the Free Roof Scam
The best way to protect yourself from roofing scams is to work with a recommended, professional roofer. Reputable roofers will ensure that your roof is repaired or installed correctly and legally. Below are a few warning signs to watch for when being contacted by a roofing company you don’t know, especially one that isn’t local or that you’ve never heard of.
Beware roofers approaching you about your roof when you have not reached out to one, such as:
- Roofers handing out fliers door to door after a storm. Some scammers try to take advantage of homeowners by following storms around the state looking for opportunities to get away with a free roof scam. These scammers will often do this throughout an entire neighborhood that’s been recently hit by a storm and leave town after their scam is complete so they cannot be easily found and held accountable.
- Roofers rushing you into signing a contract. Do not sign two different contracts. Check with the Better Business Bureau and find out if the company has any complaints against them. Ask the roofers for references that are in your community, check their license, and make sure they have valid insurance to do the job.
If you are quoted an unusually low bid, beware that it may be too much of a good thing.
- Beware the lowest bid for your roof work. The lowest bid is not always the best. Many roofers that offer the lowest bid will find hidden costs or tell you the cost of materials has gone up late in the job and that you need to pay the difference. Materials do go up, but the cost of your job should not increase if they are in the middle of the project.
- Avoid surprise price increases. Make sure you and the contractor have set the price for your roof work before you sign a contract. Talk to other companies and get quotes if possible before you decide on one contractor to do your roof. Labor and materials should be included as one price for the job.
Mysterious Damage Reported
If you are approached by a roofer you haven’t heard of claiming to have noticed damage to your roof, beware of these types of scams:
- Mysterious damage found. The scammer will go up on the roof and claim that there is damage where you cannot see the problem. Some scammers may even go up on the roof and create the damage to your roof themselves.
- Damage reported from someone driving by. Do not trust the scammer who just happens to be driving by and claims to see damage to your roof. Get a second and even a third opinion about the damage. Never sign a contract for repairs or a new roof from a high-pressure salesperson.
As mentioned previously, the best way to avoid roofing scams is to work with a trusted local roofer. Get recommendations from friends and family, read reviews online, and don’t be afraid to ask your roofer plenty of questions before signing a contract so you know what to expect ahead of time. For more information about protecting yourself from the free roof scam, contact Divided Sky Roofing and Exteriors, a local San Marcos roofing company, and we’ll be happy to answer your questions.