HOUSTON - Replacing a roof after a storm is a big job and a major investment.
So when a restoration company told Eric Park it could replace his hail-damaged roof at no cost, it sounded 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. Great, we'll get a new roof," Park said.
Eric thought everything was above board. But in Texas, the law prohibits a contractor from offering to pay a deductible or offering a rebate on a deductible.
"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," Park explained.
It turned out, the smooth sales pitch was too good to be true.
"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,” said roofing contractor Judd Haag.
And that's exactly what happened. Eric signed over his $4,800 insurance check and every time he called to get a start date, the contractor had an excuse. 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,” Park recalled.
"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," Angie Hicks from Angie’s List said.
"We really implore customers to follow up on those referrals. Don't just take them at face value. Call the people, talk to them. Make sure the company you're dealing with is a good company," Haag added.
Other red flags include:
-An 800 phone number for the business
-An out-of-state address
-Or out-of-state license plates on the contractor's vehicles.
"Go by their office. Make sure it's not just a temporary location because, let's face it, if you're hiring a roofer and you're going to depend on that roof for many years to come, you want a company that's going to stand behind it," Hicks added.
You can check a contractor’s license here. Make sure any company you hire has insurance.
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