Beware of summer roofing scams
The dog days of summer are a time for soaring temperatures, family picnics – and roofing scams.
Sycamore insurance agent Jeff Keicher of State Farm said there has been a rise in fraudulent roofing work, particularly after high winds or hail storms. Most of these scams involve out-of-state companies who offer discounted services or products “for a limited time.”
“These contractors ask for cash up front, usually before the homeowner’s insurance company has had the opportunity to assess the damage and determine the appropriate covered loss amount,” Keicher said.
“Unfortunately, a roof often goes unrepaired or inadequately repaired, while the homeowner has already paid for the work that may not have even been necessary or is not covered by his or her insurance policy.”
In another scam, the contractor will ask a homeowner to sign a waiver allowing them to climb onto the roof to inspect it. Often, in small print on the back of the waiver is a contract agreement binding the homeowner to work with that company.
Keicher said there have been more recent cases in Kane and McHenry counties than here.
Although he hasn’t noticed a major increase, DeKalb County Sheriff Roger Scott said spring through fall is the prime time for outdoor scams.
Most of these scam artists, Scott said, go into older neighborhoods where roofs are more likely to need repairs. Although senior citizens are a main target, anyone who looks like a potential victim may be approached.
Keicher said widows and widowers can be vulnerable, especially if they live alone and their late spouse handled the money and home repairs.
Scammers often tell their victims not to worry about the costs because “the insurance company will pay for it.”
If someone suspects they are being scammed, Scott said they should call 911 while it is going on. If it’s a couple of days later, they should call their local law enforcement agency.
Red flags include a truck with no business name, phone number or location and a contractor who insists on doing business immediately and won’t give you time to talk with anyone or check their references, Scott said.
Homeowners can also ask to see the person’s city permit, which is required by law.
You should also be leery if someone comes to your front door and wants to walk with you to the back of your house. Often, Scott said, scam artists have a partner. While you go out back, the other person can enter through the front door, looking for cash or jewelry.
Although most people are aware of all this, Scott said some still fall for scams now and then.