BBB: Protect your roof and your wallet

Photo by Hugh Osteen

Photo by Hugh Osteen

The aftermath following a storm may cause damage to roofs, as well as attract scammers who want to make easy money, said a spokeswoman for the Better Business Bureau Serving Metro Atlanta, Athens and Northeast Georgia, Inc. (BBB).

Dottie Callina said unscrupulous roofers may knock on, or leave a flier at a resident's front door, to try to lure him or her into a financial trap.

"They [roof scammers] target areas where there was a lot of hail damage," though they can come out after any type of storm, she said.

If you find yourself answering the door to a person selling roofing services, be wary and don't rush into any decisions on the spot, said the spokeswoman. Instead, ask for a business card and a written estimate of the work, she said.

Residents should watch out for phrases such as "insurance companies are compensating," and "most homeowners are unaware of the storm damage on their roof," she said.

"Most roofing companies advertise on the internet," said Callina.

Callina said scammers might convince consumers that their insurance company will cover the cost, when in fact that may not be true. Homeowners should check with their home insurance company, to verify whether or not they have coverage. If they do have coverage, the insurance company usually provides the roofing company, Callina explained.

Consumers should research and investigate whether the company is legitimate, said Callina. People can visit the BBB web site, www.bbb.org, for information about the roofing company, and to find out whether it is appropriately licensed the state of Georgia.

Scammers may inform the victim that a weather event, such as a hail storm, has affected their area, she said. To be sure that the information is true, consumers should verify with their neighbors, or the National Weather Service.

According to the National Weather Service's web site, www.weather.gov, the National Weather Service Forecast Office serving Clayton and Henry counties, is located in Peachtree City and can be reached at (770) 486-1133.

Callina said consumers who did experience a hail storm, should find out how big the hail stones were.

"It usually takes at least 1 1/4 inches in diameter to cause damage, with a golf ball size or larger causing serious damage," she said.

For further clues to see if in fact a hail storm occurred in your area, search for hail damage to vehicles or shrubbery, said Callina. If there are no signs of this, damage to a roof is unlikely, she said.

"The homeowner should be aware of which way the storm was moving," she said. "Many Georgia homes have roofs with various angles or pitches, which means that the angles facing the storm would receive the most damage."

Callina said homeowners should be cautious of letting unscrupulous repair companies on their roofs. Scammers may create random damage on the roof using a teaspoon, small rocks or hammers, she said.

Scammers usually fit into one of three scenarios, said Callina. They may take the money and run; take the money to begin the job, and then leave it incomplete; or do a poor job.