Replacing a roof is a big job and a major investment, so when Green Frog Restoration told Eric Park they could replace his hail-damaged roof at no cost to him, it seemed like the perfect solution.
"He drew up an estimate and said that they could pay the deductible of $1,500, so we wouldn't have to worry about that, and it shouldn't cost us anything," Park told Angie's List.
He didn't know that most states forbid contractors from paying a homeowner's deductible. In fact, the contractor's smooth sales pitch was actually a scam.
"It's an unfortunate reality of the business," said Judd Haag, a roofing professional. "These scam artist contractors will say, 'Hey, all we need is that first check. You give that to us, we'll get you scheduled to go,' and then in the worst cases, they just disappear."
And that's exactly what happened. Park signed over his $4,800 insurance check, and every time he called to get a start date, Green Frog had a reason to delay. Park eventually had to take out a $10,000 loan and hire another company to do the work.
Unfortunately, scammers like these may come into town after a storm, so be sure that you're checking the company you hire to work on your home. Make sure they have a valid license and insurance so you know that you're working with a reputable company.
"We really implore customers to follow up on those referrals," Judd Haag said. "Don't just take 'em at face value. Call the people, talk to them. Make sure the company you're dealing with is a good company."
Contractor red flags to watch out for:
- Out-of-state addresses
- 1-800 numbers
- Pressuring you to sign for an estimate or contract right away