Replacing a roof is difficult and expensive, especially if it’s an old house that needs lots of repairs. Often seniors ignore the signs of a decaying roof or don’t know what to look for. This can lead to some seniors being scammed for money or for services not rendered. In this post we’ll talk about how to prevent so-called roofers from taking advantage of you or a loved one.
Unfortunately scammers are everywhere and even the most smartest people sometimes fall prey to criminals. It’s easier for an older person to fall prey to some common scams from people preventing to be reputable roofing companies. Typically, someone will knock on a target’s door and say that they’re doing work in the neighborhood. Because they’re already there, they can do more work on the same block for less money.
Unsuspecting victims believe them, and they talk about the work that needs to be done. The scammer will then tell them that they need some cash to run to the store and buy supplies.
The criminal reassures the victim that they don’t want payment for the work being done until after the job is complete, but they need operating money. This is where the roofing scam succeeds or fails. If the victim gives them cash, they leave and never come back. If they don’t cough up the dough, the scammer moves on.
Make sure before you hire anybody you get more than one estimate for your roof. That way, you’ll not as likely to fall for one of these tricks.
Legitimate roofers operate with integrity. They want to be in business in the same area for a long time, and good relationships with clients is an important part of their business.
Possibly the most common scam, often targeted at senior citizens is the free inspection. A friendly young man knocks on the door and explains that he hasn’t had much work lately, so he’s working extra hard. While doing free roof inspections for the neighbors, he’s learned that the previous roofing contractor didn’t do a very good job.
Concerned for the senior’s welfare, he offers to do an inspection on their home. If they need roof repairs, this scammer can do it for less than usual because he’s already going to be in the neighborhood.
While this offer sounds good, it’s seldom true. The “favour” almost always turns into something bad. The so-called roofer will tell the senior the roof definitely needs work done. Because most seniors can’t go up on the roof with the roofer, they can’t verify his story and usually don’t get anyone to help them.
As with other scams, the so-called roofer pressures the senior to make a decision right away. The victim is usually scared into making a quick decision. While these roofers tend to actually do the work, they usually do sub-standard work at inflated prices. Again, you should get more than one inspection before deciding on who to hire. The senior should always ask for help from a friend or family member before making any major decisions.
The next is the insurance scam. Insurance fraud scam is a bit different. It requires the homeowner to participate. This type of scam is uncommon with most seniors, however it does happen occasionally. When a homeowner needs their roof repaired, unscrupulous roofing contractors will sometimes entice them to break the law.
Rather than paying out of their own pocket for needed repairs, the homeowner is convinced to file an insurance claim. To make the claim credible, the roofer and homeowner often conspire to do damage to the roof, typically claiming that wind did the damage.
The homeowner wants to save money on his repairs, and the roofer often suggests waiving the insurance deductible.
While it may seem like a good idea to let a big insurance company pay the bill, homeowners are at risk in this situation. When they file a fraudulent claim, they’re guilty of insurance fraud.
Insurance companies take fraud very seriously, and many homeowners are caught and prosecuted. The contractor often escapes notice, as his estimate is carefully written to avoid the appearance of wrongdoing.
There are two types of people who participate in this type of scam. The first are the greedy, who surrender good judgment for the chance to profit from someone else’s loss or otherwise get something for little or nothing. When we fall for the email scam offering us a fortune to help smuggle that dying person’s riches from Nigeria.
The second are the vulnerable; the aged, the fearful, those who, for whatever reason, are incapable or not knowledgeable enough to make an informed decision. There should be no shame when this type falls victim, and yet often there is, and often the fraudster exploits that shame to extract even more.
For the victims, fear can come twice. Initially, there’s the fear that not allowing the work could cause damage they cannot afford to repair. Later, there’s the fear of coming forward or talking to the police. Seniors especially don’t want to admit they got swindled, which is a normal human reaction. They’re afraid of what their relatives or friends might think. If they own up they might be afraid their family will try to put them in a nursing home or move them into a less private space where they won’t have as much freedom.
Don’t make any decisions without consulting a professional roofer. Look online at the roofer’s reviews to see if someone else has had a negative experience. Look specifically for companies that have targeted seniors and may not give them a fair price or done the work correctly.
The Better Business Bureau office recommends asking to see professional trades, licences, insisting that building permits be taken out and never paying more than 10 per cent as a down payment. If a senior isn’t as computer savvy, ask for references they can call on the telephone. A scammer is less likely to make the effort and move onto another target.