Beware of Repair Scams After a Disaster

Hurricane Irma caused damage to both buildings and vegetation. These gave scammers an opportunity to take advantage of people.  After Irma, scammers arrived in Florida from around the county promising assistance with debris removal or repairs.

Debris Removal

Irma left in her wake downed trees and other debris. Depending on the capabilities of the homeowner, the ability to remove the debris varied.  Some had access to chainsaws and other equipment and the muscle required to clear the debris. Others were not as fortunate. A large tree had fallen and was blocking the driveway of an elderly couple. The husband had a medical condition so access to the residence was crucial.  Two days after the hurricane, the wife was in her driveway picking up what debris she was able to pick up. A truck drove up offering to do the work for her, for a fee of $15,000.  The wife explained how they did not have that kind of money. The men then asked her how much she could pay.  Again, feeling desperate, the stated $5,000.  Of course, the scammers agreed to the fee. She paid them in advance and they promised to return the next day to do the work. Fortunately, in this case the men did return and do the work but at a ridiculous fee. Others were not as fortunate. They paid in advance only to never hear from the company or workers again.

Roof & Home Repair

This was similar with roof and home repairs. Scammers would drive around looking for roofs that had visible damage. They would approach the home and offer, for a fee, to cover it with a tarp. Some would demand the money in advance only to never return. Price gouging of tarps was observed as the supply of tarps was limited yet the demand was high.

Blue tarps on a roof became a target for roof repair scammers. Due to the numerous roofs that in need of repair, licensed roofing contractors were in high demand. This caused delays.  People, out of desperation, began to look for a quick fix. The quick fix was to hire a scammer or an unlicensed roofer. If a worker for an unlicensed roofer were to become injured while working on your home, you would be personally liable. Further, the repairs may not be done property causing more problems down the road.  Roofing scams were so profitable that scammers were calling Floridians nine months after the hurricane made landfall offering roof repairs.  Fortunately, our home did not suffer any roof damage. We did not have a blue tarp. Yet, we received numerous calls from scammers offering to repair our roof or telling us that our roof was damaged and must be repaired.

To protect yourself watch out for red flags of a scam.

  1. Unable to verify if they are licensed to do the work.
  2. Not licensed to work in your state.
  3. Demands full payment in advance without a contract.
  4. Promises to cover the cost of the insurance deductible.
  5. Initial contact, by phone, email or at your door, is unsolicited.
  6. Door-hangers or other notes that say you have roof damage.
  7. Offers to help you file an insurance claim.