Red Flags to Look Out for To Identify a Scammer.
Storm-related issues can be too much to handle even after taking all the necessary precautions. Out of nowhere, storm chasers appear with a, “I happen to be a well-known roofing expert based nearby” story.
They offer to help install or repair your new roof at only a fraction of the price a valid contractor would quote. Without as much as a thought, you take the deal. To erase all chance of you having doubts, they attach a warranty to their irrefutable offer. You are quick to sign all the necessary documents they give you, and off to work they go.
This is where all hell breaks loose. It may not be immediate, but wait until it rains, snows, or gets windy again. Or when the roof starts leaking, caving in barely months after it was freshly rebuilt.
Funny how no one pauses to ask, “How can I contact you?” “Where will this company be if I experience issues with the work that was done?” “What happens if, in a couple of months, there’s another storm, and the roof starts leaking?”
Even after asking all these questions, you might still fall victim to well-crafted lies. But there are common traits storm chasers possess that work as red flags warning you to stay away. Some of these warning signs include;
- Free Roof Inspections. A majority of authentic roofing companies offer free roof inspection services. However, not all do. While there’s no harm in accepting free inspections, be sure to monitor the roofers closely as they conduct the inspections. Some storm chasers have been caught damaging parts of roofs to make it look like it was the storm that damaged your roof.
- Random Calls from Insurance Reps. You’ll notice that people who call you claiming to be from your insurance company are more interested in you forfeiting your personal information than actually offering help. Do not give out any personal information to anyone claiming to be an insurance rep. If indeed, they are calling from your insurance company, they already have your information.
- Pay Up First. When dealing with an authentic roofing company, you will be required to pay a deposit first before any work commences on your roof. The amount will be reasonable. It should be a small fraction of the actual quoted amount. Should the said roofers ask you to pay the entire amount or a larger than usual fraction of the quoted value, you might want to pause and dig deeper.
- Impromptu Visits from People Claiming to Be from your Insurance Company. As a rule of thumb, your insurance company will call you first before they appear at your doorstep. Assuming you are not sure if these people are from your insurance company, take a moment to contact and inquire from your own saved contacts of the company/agent to find out if they sent anyone to your property.
- They Use High-pressure tricks to sell you their idea. Are they trying too hard to get you to say yes? Do they seem too desperate and borderline unprofessional just to get your consent, signature, or other approval? If yes, then this is undoubtedly a cause for concern.
- They come with sweet offers like free deductible or free roof. Such proposals, more often than not, always point towards insurance fraud.
- Have no proof of insurance or license. If the roofers try to cut corners whenever you ask for valid documentation, or they offer something different from what you asked for, they are scammers. Push for information regarding their address and post office box. If they provide it, do a quick online check to see if everything checks out.
From the recent hurricane Laura that impacted southeast Texas and Louisiana to a recent tornado in DeLand, Central Florida this past August 18th, 2020 that wrecked the area damaging cars and property, the last thing you want as a homeowner in distress is to be sold something.
Unfortunately, with the influx of people also comes an unscrupulous lot whose sole motive is to take advantage of the storm victims. Criminals are now commonly labeled “storm chasers.”
Among the laundry list of things people need help with is putting up their roofs. Storm chasers come in promising miracles, such as rebuilding your roof in hours, cleaning up in minutes, or undertaking significant repairs in less than a day.
Storm chasers show up, offering the perfect solutions to pressing problems following recent storms. In desperation, many quickly accept their ‘help’ only to find out later, usually in a couple of years, that they were duped!
With thousands of homeowners falling prey to such scammers, Gulf States Contractor, a renowned and trusted roofing expert, has discovered the need to send word out that these scammers exist and might just be closer than you think. We tell you, as a likely target for the storm chasers, what to do to avoid losses.
Property owners must expect visits from storm chaser scammers and be well prepared to counter them. Not all roofing companies that come to help put up your roof are scammers. However, this is not to say that you should let your guard down because chances are that you will come by plenty of people only out to take advantage of your situation.
How to Protect Yourself from Scammers Roofers aka Storm Chasers?
1- Read online reviews
In an era where everything is present online, a legitimate roofing company should have an online presence. It doesn’t matter whether it’s new or not- a company should have reviews online. When you Google the roofing contractor’s name, you should find several reviews on websites like, Facebook, Yelp, BBB. Apple Maps, Google Maps profile, etc. Also, find out whether the contractor has responded to complaints raised by previous customers.
2- The location of the main office
Although companies can operate entirely online, they should have a central office. In the case of roofers, they need a warehouse to store the equipment and materials. Moreover, the company should have a physical office in your area. Often, scammers will appear in your neighborhood, set up a virtual or a shared office and later pack their bags and leave after taking advantage of several homeowners. Find out how long the contractor has been in town or whether they are located in another state.
3- Time in the industry
Another way to spot a shady roofing company is by looking on how long they have been offering roofing services. By looking at a business history, you can tell if the company can keep its promises. For example, if a contractor is new and is offering a ten years warranty, will the company be in existence in 5 years to come to fulfill their warranty promises? Probably not.
4- License and insurance certification
The last thing you’d think of asking a company that comes pitching to you with low prices is their license or certificate of insurance. But, your home is an example of a huge investment that you should not take for granted.
Ensure the roofing contractor is licensed to operate in your state before you agree they repair your roof. Also, confirm the company has insurance and have a general liability policy covering a project being done on your home.
5- Talk with your insurance company
When a roofing contractor claims to be sent by your insurance company, contact them to confirm the claims.
6- Hire local contractors
The best measure to protect yourself from storm chasers is to hire a local company you’re familiar with. If you know none, ask your coworkers, neighbors, or family to recommend a reputable provider in your area.
7- Get estimates from several companies
After a storm, most people want to repair their roof. The prices hike as a result of high demand. But you can always compare prices and gauge whether a contractor is trying to rip you off.
But, are all roofers bad and scammers?
Despite having many bad storm chasers near you, there are good contractors in your area too.
These roofers have a good reputation and relate well with insurance companies. Moreover, reputable roofers focus on customer service as a priority and to keep the highest reputation possible, and not just making money. They look forward to a good relationship by putting forward quality craftsmanship instead of just selling you a new roof when sometimes all you need is a small repair, a good roofer will work to restore your roof and will lay down all possible options, not just going for the highest selling ticket.
In order to present the other side of the coin for this article, we researched 25 roofers in the central Florida area, greater Orlando, from all sizes, and found 21 roofing companies with a doubtful reputation, either lacking reviews, shady history, etc., only four roofing companies out 25 passed our test for trust, and on top of the list as the most trusted roofer in Orlando and the surroundings (based on our 12 trust points study) we found Gulf States Contractor Services Inc, they had built a 5 stars reputation in the Central Florida area for 15 years, this company is a great example for the rest, they’re GAF Master Elite Certified among other certifications, a qualified full-service provider for roof repair and replacement. When we call to ask for their services Gulf States front desk representatives (we spoke with two of them) never pushed on buying their services rather they were informative and educational, very courteous and willing to extensively answer all the questions we had, and they also have a policy of no upfront payment, and that means a whole lot.
Please do your research when hiring and signing an agreement with a roofing company, there is a wide range out there.
We will leave Gulf States information down here in case you need their services and are local to Central Florida.
Gulf States Contractor Services Inc at 4205 St Johns Pkwy, Sanford, Fl 32771. Ph. (407) 878-3689 www.gsroofers.com