The elderly are prime targets for scams. From ongoing credit charge offers, to bogus vacation offers, to too good to be true retirement property offers – chances are some senior has fallen for it. In fact, Senior Advocate estimates that fifteen million seniors are scammed every single year.
One trick they might not even suspect, however, is roofing scams. But police in Oceanside, California, recently reported that precisely that type of ruse was going around a local mobile home park. “Bogus roofers are scamming elderly mobile home residents,” the authorities reported to the media.
The scam went something like this: Shady men would show up at the seniors’ doors and attempt to solicit roofing repair work from their unsuspecting victims. And while they would make the effort and actually go up on the roofs, they’d spend a mere 30 minutes up there then return to the aged homeowners with a bill for anywhere from $800 to $1,000.
The scam artists didn’t stop there, though. When the residents balked at the amount being charged, they would drop the price by a few hundred dollars, just enough to get the seniors to agree to pay. Then they’d walk away several hundred dollars richer, having performed nothing of actual roofing value.
As sad as this “preying on the innocent” scenario is, it’s a perfect illustration of one of the roofing contractor hiring rules: Always get a price quote on a roofing repair or replacement in writing before agreeing to any work. A roofing contract protects both parties, so a reputable roofing contractor will be more than amenable to signing one. It’s the homeowner’s guarantee that the roofer has done his homework, crossed all his Ts, and won’t financially sock it to him or her after that fact. At the same time, it serves as the roofing contractor’s legal recourse in a court of law if the tables are turned and he’s stiffed by a customer.
Indeed, upfront price quotes are such a commonly accepted roofing practice that most roofers will offer homeowners one free of charge. In order to provide an accurate quote, the roofing contractor, of course, must thoroughly inspect the home-and in particular the roof-before making any repairs, something the Oceanside roof scammers clearly didn’t do.
Another way in which these senior homeowners could have protected themselves was to ask for certified credentials the minute the roofing posers knocked on their door. Proof of professionalism would have included:
- Certificates of insurance – Claiming to be self-insured does not give a roofing contractor a pass. Coverage in the following ranges is recommended: general aggregate $3,000,000.00 or more; completed operations $1,000,000.00; automobile liability $500,000.00. Proof of worker’s compensation insurance is also of utmost importance. And it’s not enough for the roofer to just flash an insurance card. It behooves the homeowner to scrutinize all such credentials for validity.
- Multiple payment and financing options – Roofers that demand cash or credit card payments are dead giveaways for roofing scam material.
- A zero-defects quality assurance report – Any roofing contractor who is unwilling to stand behind his finished product has no incentive to perform a top-quality job.