Avoiding Storm Chasers – Part I: Verifying Credentials
A homeowner’s first instinct after a major weather disturbance is to check the house for any damage, especially the roof. If there is damage, many homeowners seek help where they can find it, making it easy for them to fall victim to “storm chasers” — unscrupulous and often fly-by-night contractors who offer their services to unwary homeowners just when they are most in need of repairs at home. Storm chasers are roofers who make a living by travelling the country in search of roofing jobs to be found in areas that have recently been through a major storm or weather disturbance. Some of them may actually be experienced contractors, although many are nothing but scam artists who do a shoddy job, then take your cash and skip out of town as quickly as they can.
They’ll entice homeowners to get their roofs repaired by offering their expertise. You can probably guess what happens next. Once the homeowner agrees and makes the down payment, the contractor performs the minimum required to repair the roof or, in a worst-case scenario, simply run away with the money, never to be heard from again.
Homeowners have to understand that while it’s a priority to get the roof repaired, it’s still best to be careful when choosing which roofing contractors to hire, to avoid being scammed by storm chasers. The waiting time it may take before a reputable locally-based contractor can get around to your roof job will still, no doubt, be less painful than discovering that your money for repairs has disappeared into thin air. There are many ways to detect a scammer, but the first step will always be to verify the roofing contractor’s credentials.
Check to see if they’re local
Roofing contractors that are local will always be your best bet. The first thing you’ll need to do is to simply check the license plates on their trucks. If the vehicle’s plates are from another state, then this should already alert you to the possibility of a storm chaser.
However, some companies may pretend that they’re local. Some may even go the extent of setting up a temporary office or tying up with a local company. If you’re in doubt, call or visit their office and ask for a copy of their permits.
Check with the Better Business Bureau (BBB)
You can also check if they’re accredited with the BBB. The organization receives thousands of complaints yearly about fraudulent roofing contractors, so they’ll have reliable records of who to deal with. If the company isn’t accredited, you’re better off finding another.
Storm chasers will do anything to get you to agree to their offer. They may even seem to be legit. In Part II, we’ll discuss some of the common tactics that they use when they’re looking for victims. Being aware of those tactics will alert you on whether or not you’re dealing with a legitimate company.