Spring is here, and with it comes varied weather....and scamming contractors.
Severe weather such as wind or hail might force you to have to replace your roof, which is a major investment. Many people choose to hire-out big home improvement projects like replacing a roof, but it is important to know just who you are hiring to do the job.
Green Frog Restoration told Eric Park they could replace his hail-damaged roof at no cost to him. To Park, this 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 said. "Great, we’ll get a new roof.”
Park didn’t know that most states forbid contractors from paying a homeowner’s deductible. He thought everything was above board. "Just from the way they were talking, I had no reason to not believe they’re on the up-and-up. They know what they’re doing, they know the business,” added Park.
Their smooth sales pitch was actually a scam, which roofing professional Judd Haag says is a sad reality of the business.
“These scam artist contractors will say Hey, all we need is we need that first check. You give that to us, we’ll get you scheduled to go, and then in the worst cases they just disappear,” Haag said.
That's exactly what happened.
Eric signed over his $4,800 insurance check and every time he called to get a start date, Green Frog had a reason to delay. He eventually had to take out a $10,000 loan and hire another company to do the work.
“They stole my money. That’s a lot of money,” said Park.
Angie's List Founder Angie Hicks says there are ways to prevent getting scammed from unreputable contractors.
“Unfortunately, there might be scammers that come into town after a storm, so be sure that you’re checking the company you’re using – that they have a valid license, they have insurance so that you know that you’re working with a reputable company," Hicks said.
Angie's List says if a contractor gives you a 1-800 number or out-of-state business address, that’s a red flag. Also, you shouldn’t feel pressured to sign a contract on the spot, even if they say they need your signature to get on your roof to provide an estimate.
“We really implore customers to follow-up on those referrals. 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,” added Haag.
As for Green Frog Restoration, its owners have been ordered to pay back more than $250,000 in Ohio and still face multiple lawsuits and criminal charges throughout the Midwest.