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Severe storm damage.

When Bad Weather Strikes, Watch Out for Roofing Scams

How to spot “storm chasers” and roof repair rip-offs

Heavy snow, large hail, high winds, torrential rains — when Central PA is hit with bad weather, we know that roofing repairs will soon follow. Unfortunately, sometimes our bad weather can also bring bad roofing contractors who look for opportunities to take advantage of homeowners in their time of need. 

Reputable roofing contractors like us call these bad actors “storm chasers” because they move in and target areas that have been affected by severe weather like hail and wind damage. Storm chasers are known for performing shoddy repair work and then quickly disappearing, along with your hard-earned money. 

Think you might have been the victim of a storm chaser for a recent post-storm roof repair? Here are some telltale signs that can signal you may have been duped.

  • Arriving unannounced. Storm chasers are always on the move, so they tend to show up suddenly in a neighborhood right after bad weather. Sometimes they’ll distribute flyers in the area. Other times, a salesperson may walk right up and knock on your door. 
  • Free inspection, with a catch. Trustworthy roofing contractors will frequently provide a free inspection to assess the condition of your roof, but most of us won’t do so unsolicited, and we certainly won’t just show up and knock on your door. So, beware the offer of an unsolicited free inspection, as this can just be a tactic to get someone on your roof to find problems that may not be there.
  • High-pressure sales tactics. Storm chasers will often push you to sign a contract immediately to qualify for a soon-to-expire discount, or they’ll insist on starting the repair work right away. This is part of their strategy to get in, get out, and disappear as quickly as possible before you have time to ask too many questions.
  • Requesting full payment up front. It’s not unusual for a roofing contractor to request a partial deposit before beginning a repair job, but it is highly suspicious to demand full payment before the work has even started. Putting all the money in a stranger’s hands before you see the quality of the work just isn’t a good idea.
  • Lack of references and reviews. Customer references and positive reviews are key components of establishing trust with a new client. Storm chasers noticeably leave these out of the conversation because their reviews are bad and their references don’t exist.

Three Ways To Protect Yourself From Storm Chasers 

Not all storm chasers are easy to spot, so it’s also important to be armed with the right information to ensure you are dealing with a reputable roofing contractor for your repairs. By following these easy steps, you’ll quickly know if you’re talking to a legitimate contractor and protect yourself from being targeted by a storm chaser. 

1. Ask for the roofing contractor’s HIC number.

In Pennsylvania, contractors who earn more than $5,000 per year from home improvement work are required to register and obtain a home improvement contractor (HIC) number. You can use this number to confirm that the contractor in question is legally operating in PA and has verified proof of insurance. HIC verification is simple with the Home Improvement Contractor Registration Search tool available on the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s website.

2.  Check the contractor’s online reviews and request references. 

A reputable, well-established roofing contractor that does good work will have online reviews and references of past customers that attest to their work quality. Consider the source of the reviews, the specificity of the feedback, and the overall balance of positive and negative comments. Additionally, reaching out directly to provided references can provide insights into a contractor’s capabilities and work ethic.

3. Never agree to pay the full amount upfront before the work has started. 

Full upfront payment is generally considered bad business, and in the case of the storm chaser, it gives them the opportunity to walk off with your money without doing any work at all. Trustworthy roofing contractors will typically request a partial down payment prior to beginning work, or they will wait until the work is complete to provide an invoice. They will also provide a contract that details the work they intend to perform.

Taking these steps is a simple way to protect yourself against fraud and ensure that you’re hiring a qualified professional to perform your roof repairs.

Did a Storm Chaser Repair Your Roof? Don’t Worry!

If you’re worried that your roof was repaired by a storm chaser and you’re concerned about the quality of the repair work, give us a call! We’re always happy to send one of our roofing experts to your home to have a look and determine if your repairs were done right. Call 717-616-2272

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