This summer, Angie’s List is sounding the alarm bell over sketchy “roofing contractors” scamming homeowners and businesses around the country. These rip-off artists are putting the con into contractor, and often take advantage of aging Americans who can’t manage home-improvement projects on their own.

In February of this year, a Grand Rapids man plead guilty to defrauding a Michigan couple in a roofing scam. Court records show he accepted more than $6,000 from the couple before running away with the money, leaving them with both a leaky roof and a leaky bank account. And in 2014, a Grand Rapids roofing contractor was charged with felony fraud after the Better Business Bureau received a torrent of complaints about unfinished work on area homes.

Roofing Grand Rapids Michigan homes often leaves residents vulnerable to such fraud. And Angie’s List Senior Editor Emily Udell says it’s a national problem that extends far beyond Michigan.

“Over the years, Angie’s List has written a number of articles about crooked roofing contractors and seen the same pattern of fraud, poor workmanship, and storm chasing behavior that leaves homeowners high and dry, with unfinished roofs and water-damaged homes,” Udell writes.

So what are the most common types of fraud associated with roofing Grand Rapids Michigan buildings? And how can you find contractors with a reputation for honestly and professionally roofing Grand Rapids Michigan homes?

The Best Contractors Are Proud of Their Reviews There are more than 50,000 companies involved in the installation of roofing and siding in the U.S., with many of them roofing Grand Rapids Michigan buildings and homes. The best way to find Michigan roofing companies that will give you a fair price on quality work is to always check roofing reviews online.

Fortunately for consumers, it’s never been easier to find Michigan roofing company reviews than it is in 2015. Sites like Yelp and Angie’s List provide homeowners with the tools they need to evaluate Grand Rapids roofing reviews before handing over their hard earned money to potential contractors. Remember: the best Michigan roofers display their reviews proudly, right where customers can easily find them.

What else should you look for in a legitimate company roofing Grand Rapids Michigan homes?
  • Proof of insurance, proof of warranty
  • Membership in trade groups, such as the Better Business Bureau or local Michigan Chamber of Commerce groups
  • Physical storefronts are a sign that you’re dealing with an established roofing company. Scam artists often go door-to-door, but rarely have a location where victims can track them down afterwards.
Beware These Common Contracting Scams: Elder Abuse: Unfortunately, older and aging Americans are frequent victims of contracting and home-improvement scams. Self-styled contractors will often go door-to-door looking for elderly homeowners to prey on. These con-men will point out “flaws” in their roof or home and offer roof repair tips. Usually, these scammers will demand some money up front to purchase supplies, then run off with the money.

If you suspect a family member or neighbor has fallen victim to a home-improvement scam, then don’t hesitate to contact the police. Attorney generals and police departments around the country are well aware of this disturbing trend, and will most likely be happy to help track down the criminal.

Storm Chasers: When a city is hit by a particularly nasty storm, so-called “storm chasers” will descend on a town to prey on residents with damaged property.

“Some legitimate out-of-town companies and workers will visit an area hit by storms, but be cautious and make sure they’re operating under appropriate local licensing and permitting laws,” Udell writes.

One way to protect yourself from this scam? Ask any company roofing Grand Rapids Michigan homes if they plan on sub-contracting any of the work.

Down Payment Thieves: Most home-improvement and commercial roofing scams begin with a down payment. They claim they can’t start work until they’ve received money upfront, or they demand money for supplies. Often times, rip-off artists will convince a homeowner to hand over or cash an insurance check, then run off with the money.

Most reputable companies roofing Grand Rapids Michigan buildings will at least deliver supplies before asking for a down payment. Again, check and see if the contractor or Grand Rapids roofing company has a physical location. If not, proceed with caution before handing over your money.

Shoddy or Incomplete Roof Repair: In a poll of Angie’s List users who reported problems with roofing contractors, 68% complained of contractors who provided shoddy work or failed to complete a re-roofing project on time (or at all). Indications of water damage are a sure sign that you need to find a contractor or company with experience roofing Grand Rapids Michigan buildings and home. But water damage after a roof repair or replacement job are an indication of shoddy workmanship.

Watch out for water leaking into your home, soggy installation or soffits, damaged gutters, or missing shingles. A lazy roofer will just slap cheap shingles right on top of an existing layer, which only provides a temporary bandage for more serious problems.

What To Do If You Suspect You’ve Fallen Victim To Shady Roofers? Sadly, many U.S. homeowners don’t have the know-how to perform maintenance on their own. A survey of homeowners revealed that 88% view the exterior of their home as a single entity, when in reality it’s made of dozens of unique components. Con artists will prey on this knowledge gap, taking advantage of hard-working Americans.

The average American family will spend 1-4% of their home’s value on maintenance or repair work each year, and some of that money will end up in the hand of conniving “contractors” trying to make a quick buck. So if you want to keep a quality roof over your family’s head, do your research and avoid inferior contractors.

Grand Rapids roofing companies can often provide a warranty on popular commercial and residential roofing materials, so don’t risk the safety and value of your home or business just to save money on a repair job. The best roofing Grand Rapids Michigan companies can provide should last up to 20 years, and replacing your roof can help keep up the value of your home, too.

If a contractor roofing Grand Rapids Michigan homes in your neighborhood tries to pull one of these scams on you or your neighbors, then please do not hesitate to notify The Better Business Bureau, police, or an attorney. Your family deserves the best roofing Grand Rapids Michigan has to offer, so protect yourself this year from these common con-men tricks.