New Campaign Launched to Fight Roofing Fraud in Colorado

Hail

  A group of nonprofit, government, and business organizations are working together to fight roofing contractor fraud in Colorado with a new public education campaign called No Roof Scams.

The campaign’s goal is to sound an alarm during severe weather season about the spike in roofing fraud and arm Colorado homeowners with information to protect themselves against being victimized by roofing scams. Help us spread the word by using #NoRoofScams and sharing anti-fraud advic, resources and messages.\

This week’s latest round of damaging hail battered South-Metro Denver and serves as a reminder that Colorado’s peak weather catastrophe season has arrived. The National Insurance Crime Bureau recently reported that Colorado is number two in the country for the number of insurance claims filed due to property damage from hailstorms to homes and businesses during the past three years. An overwhelming number of these claims include roof damage. The roof is every building’s first line of defense against Mother Nature, and Colorado’s roofs need to be as strong as possible given all the severe weather events that occur here, especially hailstorms.

Unfortunately, these storms can bring out the worst in people, especially unscrupulous roofing contractors who scam consumers needing to repair or replace their hail-damaged roofs. These fraudsters will often make false promises, insist on full payment upfront before work is completed, and sometimes even create damage where none occurred.

While most contractors are honest and reputable, others are not. In fact, the highest number of consumer inquiries to the Better Business Bureau of Denver-Boulder involve selecting reputable roofing contractors.

There are many things consumers can do to guard against being the victim of a fraudulent roofing contractor.

  • Look for well-established, licensed, insured and bonded roofing professionals with a federal tax identification number and a permanent address.
  • Ask for a contractor’s license number and confirm with your city or county building department that the license number was issued by them and is current.
  • Check to make sure the contractor is registered to conduct business in Colorado at https://www.sos.state.co.us/biz/BusinessEntityCriteriaExt.do.
  • Ask to see the company’s certificates of insurance. Verify with the insurer the certificate is valid, the contractor is endorsed for roofing work, and the contractor’s coverage for liability and workers’ compensation is current. CONSUMER TIP: Check the number of employees covered by the policy – a low number indicates the contractor will hire temporary help who may or may not have roofing experience.
  • Don’t hire a contractor who knocks on your door following a storm. Most legitimate roofing contractors do not conduct business this way.
  • Contact the Colorado Roofing Association (CRA) http://coloradoroofing.org, which maintains a current list of licensed, properly insured, professional contractors who have committed to abiding by the CRA Code of Ethics, and have passed a nationally recognized exam that addresses roofing work on residential and/or commercial property.
  • Contact the Better Business Bureau (http://www.bbb.org/denver) to check for complaints filed against any company you are considering hiring.
  • Be sure to get more than one estimate.
  • Require references that specifically include other homes in your area, and check them.
  • Make sure you review and understand all documents sent to your insurance carrier.
  • Never pay a contractor in full or sign a completion certificate until all the work is completed.
  • Don’t be pushed into signing a contract right away. Never sign a contract with blanks or statements like “see insurance estimate, etc.” – fraudulent contractors may enter unacceptable terms later.
  • Always ensure that before you sign a contract it includes all the requirements established in Colorado Senate Bill 38.
    • Scope of work and materials to be provided.
    • Cost for same based on damages known at the time the contract is entered into.
    • Approximate dates of service.
    • Roofing contractor’s contact information.
    • Identification of contractor’s surety and liability coverage insurer and their contact information.
    • Contractor’s policy regarding cancellation of contract and refund of any deposit including a rescission clause allowing the property owner to rescind the contract for roofing services and obtain a full refund of any deposit within 72 hours after entering the contract.
    • A statement that if the property owner plans to pay for the roofing services through an insurance claim, the contractor cannot pay, waive or rebate the homeowner’s insurance deductible in part or in whole.
    • A statement that the contractor shall hold in trust any payment from the property owner until the contractor has delivered roofing materials to the jobsite or has performed a majority of the roofing work on the property.
    • A statement that the property owner may rescind a contract for services, the payment for which will be made from the proceeds of a property insurance claim, within 72 hours after receiving notice from their insurer that the claim is denied in whole or in part.

Organizations participating in the No Roof Scams campaign include:

  • Better Business Bureau – Denver/Boulder
  • Colorado Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management
  • Colorado Division of Insurance (Division of Regulatory Agencies)
  • Colorado Roofing Association
  • Insurance Institute for Business &  Home Safety
  • National Insurance Crime Bureau
  • Property Casualty Insurance Association of America
  • Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association

Follow #NoRoofScams this summer to learn more about how consumers can avoid being the victims of unethical roofing contractors and find reputable roofing contractors.

Bayaud Enterprises Named BBB Nonprofit of the Month

DENVER–BBB serving Denver/Boulder is pleased to congratulate Bayaud Enterprises for being named our June Nonprofit of the Month. Currently operating out of offices in Denver, Bayaud Enterprises set the mission to create “Hope, Opportunity and Choice”, with work as the means through which people with disabilities and other barriers to employment can more fully participate in the mainstream of life.

Bayaud Enterprises has been changing the lives of thousands of individuals in the Denver community by providing employment training, assessment, coaching, placement and job mentoring services since 1969.

Bayaud Enterprises has been a BBB Accredited Charity for six years, meeting all 20 Standards for Charity Accountability. Bayaud Enterprises won the BBB Torch Award for Marketplace Trust in the large nonprofit category in 2014.

BBB Serving Denver/Boulder charity review program was developed to help donors make informed giving decisions and to promote high standards of conduct among organizations that solicit contributions from the public. BBB reviews 501(c)(3) tax exempt organizations using the BBB Standards or Charity Accountability. These standards go beyond the requirements of local, state, and federal laws and regulations and cover four areas:

  • Governance and Oversight
  • Measuring Effectiveness
  • Finances
  • Fund Raising and Informational Materials

“With multiple programs offered to the Denver community to combat barriers to employment,” says Kim States, BBB Denver/Boulder CEO. “Bayaud Enterprises is a fantastic example of a nonprofit that is truly impacting the future of our community and the generations to come.”

In recognition of the Charity of the Month honor, BBB compiled a short video about Bayaud Enterprises. The video can be found athttps://youtu.be/Rpgs2xEI3WY or on the BBB Denver/Boulder YouTube page.

For more information on Bayaud Enterprises, visit http://www.bayaudenterprises.org/ or call 303.830.6885. Bayaud Enterprises is located at 333 W. Bayaud Ave. Denver, CO 80223

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ABOUT BBB: For more than 100 years, Better Business Bureau has been helping people find businesses, brands and charities they can trust. In 2014, people turned to BBB more than 165 million times for BBB Business Reviews on more than 4.7 million businesses and Charity Reports on 11,000 charities, all available for free at bbb.org. The Council of Better Business Bureaus is the umbrella organization for 113 local, independent BBBs across North America, as well as home to its national programs on dispute resolution, advertising review, and industry self-regulation.

Renting? Make Sure the Place Really Exists Prior to Signing…

If you are hunting for an apartment on Craigslist, watch out for rental cons. A new report from New York University explores just how common these scams are.

Spoiler alert: they are everywhere.

Homer Rent

How the Scam Works:

You are looking at Craigslist apartment listings for a new place to live. You know that scams are common on the site, but just how prevalent are they? Very, according to the NYU researchers. Craigslist fails to identify more than half of rental scam listings, and suspicious posts linger for as long as 20 hours before being taken down.
Researchers reviewed more than 2 million for-rent posts and found 29,000 fake listings in 20 major cities. Of those, there were three key types of scams. In the first, a fake post instructs a would-be tenant to purchase a credit report. The scammer gets a commission from the credit reporting site, even though there is no property for rent.
In another scheme, con artists duplicate rental listings from other sites and post on Craigslist at a lower price. Prospective renters pay a deposit via wire transfer. Another pervasive scam is “realtor service” companies. Targets are asked to pay fees to access listings of pre-foreclosure rentals or rent-to-own properties. In the majority of cases, the companies leading the scams have no connection to the properties listed.

How to Spot a Rental Scam:

• Don’t wire money or use a prepaid debit card: You should never pay a security deposit or first month’s rent by prepaid debit card or wire transfer. These payments are the same as sending cash – once you send it, you have no way to get it back.
• Watch out for deals that sound too good: Scammers lure in targets by promising low rents, great amenities and other perks. If the price seems much better than offered elsewhere, it may be a scam.
• See the property in person: Don’t send money to someone you’ve never met for an apartment you haven’t seen. If you can’t visit an apartment or house yourself, ask someone you trust to go and confirm that it is what was advertised.
• Don’t fall for the overseas landlord story: Scammers often claim to be out of the country and instruct targets to send money overseas.
• Search for the same ad in other cities: Search for the listing online. If you find the same ad listed in other cities, that’s a huge red flag.

 

GIF courtesy giphy.com & SimpsonsWorld.com

BBB Tips to Ensure Wise Giving on Memorial Day

On Memorial Day, the holiday that seeks to pay tribute to those who gave their lives serving in the military, many of us will pay respects to those who died by responding to requests for donations by veterans and military-affiliated organizations.  “As with any charity appeal, we urge donors to exercise caution and do some research before making a giving decision,” recommends H. Art Taylor, President and CEO, BBB Wise Giving Alliance, “Donation requests by veterans groups are high around the Memorial Day holiday.”

As potential donors respond to appeals from such organizations, the BBB Wise Giving Alliance offers the following advisory tips:

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You’ve Been Hit with Hail, Now What?

If you spend any time in Colorado, you are bound to hear the phrase, “If you don’t like the weather, just wait five minutes”.   Colorado is famous for weather changing sporadically, and with dramatic shifts in air pressure and temperature the result can sometimes be treacherous hail.

In fact, per the National Insurance Crime Bureau, Colorado ranks second only to Texas for the number of insurance claims filed due to hail strikes on homes, property and cars in the past three years.

With the abundance of hail storms, consumers need to be weary of “storm chasers” or fraudsters that scam victims by making false promises to consumers who are looking to repair hail damage.

The Better Business Bureau offers these tips when looking to repair automobiles or roofs.

General Tips

  • Get more than one estimate.
  • Don’t be pressured in signing a contract right away or at your doorstep
  • Always check with BBB, findacompany.org and request quotes from BBB Accredited Businesses
  • If you come across a faulty business, visit bbb.org/scamtracker/denver/ to help warn others of illegal scheme or fraud

Roofers

  • Get everything in writing
    • Cost, work to be done, time schedule, payment schedule and other expectations
  • Never sign a contract with blanks
  • Wait to pay a contractor in full or sign a completion certificate until the work is truly completed
  • Avoid giving a down payment unless special materials are being ordered
  • Ask if the company uses their own workers or if they hire individual, third-party subcontractors.
    • Know exactly who is working on your roof and who is responsible if something goes wrong
  • Verify applicable licensing and permits with your city and county
  • Always ensure that before you sign a contract it meets the terms set in Colorado Senate Bill 38
    • Contractors contact information
    • Scope of work and materials provided
    • Approximate dates of service and cost of materials/service
    • Roofers surety and liability coverage insurer and contact information
    • 72 hour right to rescind
    • Contractor cannot in away way pay, waive or rebate all or part of the insurance deductible
    • Contractor will hold in trust any payment until the majority of the work is performed or materials are delivered to the residence
    • 72 hour right to rescind after the insurance claim is denied.

Automobile

  • If under warranty, follow the manufacturer’s requirements to keep your warranty in effect
  • Make sure any certificates advertised are recently obtained and then independently verify this information
  • When receiving estimate, ask the service consultant to explain all work completed
  • Be sure warranty information is included in writing on the repair order.

Hail on Roof

Leverage Your Landscape Over the Neighbors

First, decide on the scope of your project. Do you want more color in the garden, a water feature, drip irrigation, walls, pathways, a deck, or more? You’ll need to clarify what improvements you want in order to choose a landscaper most suited to your project.

Bad Yardwork

Go big or go home. Small patches of color can work in a seating area where you’re right on top of the plantings; otherwise, paint with a big brush. Large swaths of color have the most impact for the long and middle views. Make a splash with large blossoms, such as peonies, hydrangeas, sunflowers, or multiflowered sprays that read as large blossoms like delphinium, snapdragons, and goldenrod. Plant in multiples: five tulips add color, but 30 make a statement.

Flower Kid

Dress for success. Just as you consider your skin tone, eyes, and hair color when you buy clothes, consider your house color and hardscaping when choosing color schemes.  One gardener loves purples and blues but found they didn’t work well when she lived on a property with a red barn. “I veered into a lot of the warmer colors,” she says. “I needed really deep, bright colors to show up against the barn.”

Sun Happy

Sun or shade. Colors perform differently in sun and shade. Deep, vibrant shades that catch fire in full sun look dark and dull in shade; conversely, pale hues that light up a shady corner can appear washed out in the sun.

Dog Rake

Don’t forget the greens. Foliage is to flowers as black velvet is to diamonds—it enhances the sparkle and color. But foliage can also be a design element  of its own. Think solid, speckled, striped, variegated, fat, skinny, smooth, bumpy, green, black, yellow, red, and purple.

Garden Loop

The hard stuff. Pops of garden color aren’t restricted to flowers. Add extra interest with ceramic urns, painted benches, weathered metal sculptures, or whatever catches your fancy. One gardener plays up the fiesta atmosphere on her deck with Chinese lanterns, paper stars, strings of lights, garlands of fans, and artifacts from her travels.

Lawnmower DogKeep it simple. Wandering through a nursery’s vast variety of species can be overwhelming. It’s easy to come home with either nothing or with a bunch of stuff that just doesn’t go together. It’s wise to control the variety of plants in your garden. A good rule of thumb is three of one variety of plant. Less really is more!

Gifs courtesy giphy.com

Festival Goers Fooled by Fake Tickets and Events

This summer, don’t fall for a festival scam. Scammers are tempting would-be festival goers into buying tickets for events promising all-you-can-eat crabs, live music and other fun. But in reality, either the ticket or the event itself is fake.

Festival Picture

How the Scam Works:

You see a great deal on tickets to a summer festival in your city, usually through a social media link. For a reasonable entrance fee, the festival offers delicious food such as all-you-can-eat crabs, live music, and/or craft beer and wine. You click the link, and it takes you to a website to buy tickets. Just enter your credit card information, and you are set.

Don’t do it! Better Business Bureaus across North America have reported fake festival sign-ups. Victims purchase tickets and show up at the time and location, only to find a crowd of frustrated ticket holders. Other times, the festival is real, but the tickets are fake.

How to Spot a Fake Festival Scam:

Do your research before purchasing. Search online for the name of the festival and make sure the name advertised matches the website. Scammers often use names that sound similar to those of real festivals.

Check for (working) contact information: Be sure the festival website has a phone number and email address.

Prices too good to be true: There is no way a festival can offer tickets at extremely low prices without losing money. If the prices are much lower than elsewhere, it’s likely a scam.

What Can You Do?

Pay with a credit card: You can dispute the charges if the business doesn’t come through. Be wary of online sellers that don’t accept credit cards.

Look for secure sites: The website should begin with https (the extra “s” is for secure) and have a little lock symbol on the address bar.

Avoid tickets sold on Craigslist and other free online listings:  Scammers are skilled at providing realistic tickets and fake receipts. Check out third-party ticket sites at bbb.org before making purchases.

For More Information

Learn more about festival scam in the Federal Trade Commission’s recent alert.  To find out more about other scams, check out BBB Scam Stopper (bbb.org/scam). To report a scam, go to BBB Scam Tracker (bbb.org/scamtracker).

Sun Safety in the Workplace: The 5 S’s

Did you know that up to 90 percent of all skin cancers are caused by prolonged or intense exposure to the sun? Outdoor workers spend more time exposed to ultraviolet (UV) radiation and so are at greater risk of sun damage and skin cancers. With this in mind, The Five S’s of Sun Safety can guide you in safeguarding your employees:

Pinnacol-Sun-Safety

 Slip on sun-protective clothing
• Clothing can be one of the most effective barriers between our skin and the sun.
• Clothing should cover as much skin as possible.
• Always cover shoulders, which burn easily.
• A tighter weave provide most protection.
• A high Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF)-rated fabric offers best protection.

Slop on SPF 30+ sunscreen
• Always use sunscreen with a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of 30 or more, and preferably water-resistant.
• Make sure sunscreen is broad-spectrum and carries a UVA symbol or minimum 4-star rating.
• Take sunscreen to work; store in an accessible, cool place; and remember to check the expiration date.
• For outdoor work, apply a generous amount to clean, dry, exposed skin.
• Apply sunscreen 20 minutes before going outdoors and preferably once again while outdoors.
• All sunscreens should be reapplied at least every two hours — more if perspiring heavily or after toweling dry.
• Remember to protect your lips with an SPF 30+ lip balm.

Slap on a sun hat
• Always wear a hat with a wide brim that shades the face, neck and ears.
• A close weave or UPF-rated fabric will provide best protection.
• Legionnaire (with a flap that covers the neck and joins the front peak) or bucket-style hats (with minimum 7.5cm brim) are most effective. Hard hats can be fitted with a sun peak and flap.

Slide on quality sunglasses
• Solar UV radiation can be damaging to the eyes, so it’s important to wear quality sunglasses.
• Protection depends on the quality of the lens and overall design.
• Sunglasses labeled with a high EPF (which ranges from 1-10) will offer best protection.
• Ensure they are close-fitting and wrap around to prevent solar UVR from entering the sides and top.

Shade from the sun whenever possible
• Shade can provide a good barrier between our skin and the sun.
• Seek shade whenever possible, particularly at the hottest times of the day between, 11a.m. and 3 p.m., when UV penetration is strongest.
• Move outside jobs inside or to shady locations when possible.
• Erect a temporary shelter or seek out the shade of trees or buildings when possible.
• Try to plan to complete outdoor jobs in the morning before 11 am or after 3 p.m., avoiding the hours of greatest sun intensity.
• Never rely on shade alone; always combine with personal protection measures.

Remember that UV radiation from the sun bounces off water, sand, concrete, light-colored surfaces and snow. These surfaces can considerably increase the strength of the sun’s damaging rays, so employees who work in these areas should exercise extra care.

Guard outdoor workers against exposure to substances that can increase the harmful effects of UV radiation. These substances include industrial chemicals such as asphalt and diphenyls (e.g., fungicides and pesticides), as well as certain medications (e.g., anti-inflammatories and antibiotics). Workers near these substances should exercise caution. A water-resistant sunscreen can protect the skin when contact with such substances is likely.

Is your workplace sun-safe?
We know that more than 80 percent of skin cancer cases are caused by overexposure to UV, so this hazard is largely preventable! Education about the prevention and early detection of this disease should be a priority for all organizations.

*This post is provided by: Pinnacol Assurance
To learn more about the BBB & Safety Group Programs visit: http://www.bbb.org/denver/safety-group-program/

Looking to Sell Stuff Online? Be Careful…

If you sell items online, watch out for this con. Scammers are fooling sellers with fake emails that appear to be payment confirmation messages from PayPal.

Monkey Computer

How the Scam Works

You post a big-ticket item (vehicle, computer, furniture) for sale on Craigslist, eBay or another online sales site.An interested buyer contacts you and says that he or she wants to buy the item right away and arranges to meet for the exchange.

When you arrive, however, the buyer doesn’t have cash. Instead, they claim to have sent the money through PayPal. You check your email and, sure enough, you have what appears to be a message from PayPal confirming the transfer. The scammer may even claim that the transfer is “invisible,” and that’s why you can’t see it in your PayPal account.

Of course, there is no such thing as an “invisible” transfer. The scammer didn’t send any money, and is just trying to take your item without paying. Some versions of this scam also have an overpayment twist.  In these, the scammer “accidentally” overpays you for the item. For example, he or she “sends” you $2,000 payment for the item you are selling for $200.  Then, he or she requests that you wire back the difference. By the time you figure out the PayPal transfer was a fake, the scammer is long gone.

Tips to avoid online sales scams:

  • Don’t accept checks or money orders: When selling to someone you don’t know, it is safer to accept cash or credit card payments.
  • Do not accept overpayments: When selling on Craigslist, eBay or similar sites, don’t take payments for more than the sales price, no matter what convincing story the buyer tells you.
  • Always confirm the buyer has paid before handing over the item. Don’t take the buyer’s word for it.
  • Be wary of individuals claiming to be overseas. In many different types of scams, con artists claim to be living abroad to avoid in person contact. Consider this a red flag.
  • Meet sellers/potential buyers in person and in a safe place: Meet in a public area and never invite buyers/sellers into your home. Ask your local police department if they have a “safe lot” program. Even if they don’t, suggesting the parking lot or lobby of a police station as a meeting place might be enough to scare off a scammer.

For More Information

Read more about selling on eBay, including what to do when sellers don’t pay. Also, check out Craigslist’s resources about avoiding scams when selling on the site.
To find out more about other scams, check out BBB Scam Stopper (bbb.org/scam). To report a scam, go to BBB Scam Tracker (bbb.org/scamtracker).

 

Tax Scam Explodes This Week

Better Business Bureau offices across the U.S. are seeing a big increase this week in reports of the “tax imposter scam” (also called the “IRS scam”), which was the top scam reported to BBB last year. Con artists are posing as IRS agents and calling consumers claiming they owe back taxes. Targets are instructed to send money via wire transfer or prepaid debit card, or face terrifying consequences such as arrest, lawsuits, and fines.

In the past year, BBB Scam Tracker (bbb.org/scamtracker) received more than 6,200 reports of tax collector imposter scams in the U.S. and Canada. The U.S. Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration estimates that more than 5,000 victims have lost more than $26 million in the past two years as a result of the scam. Although the scam does not seem to be targeting Canadian citizens this week, tax imposters are the top scam in Canada, too.

Tax imposters often go to great lengths to seem realistic. Over the phone, the scammer may provide a fake badge number and name. Emails often use the agency’s logo, colors, and official-sounding language.

BBB’s advice is to hang up on the caller or delete the email.

How to Spot a Tax Impostor Scam: 

Here are some ways to spot a fake tax collector.

  • It’s the first you’ve heard about the debt. Tax agencies don’t call, text, or email without first contacting you by mail. If you’ve never received a letter about past due taxes, the “agent” is most likely a scammer.
  • You are pressured to act immediately. Scammers typically try to push you into action before you have had time to think. The government will give you the chance to ask questions or appeal what you owe.
  • Payment must be made by wire transfer, prepaid debit card, or other non-traditional payment methods. These methods are largely untraceable and non-reversible. Tax agencies don’t demand immediate payment, require a specific form of payment, or ask for credit card or debt card numbers over the phone.

Additional Resources:

U.S.: If you owe taxes or you think you might, contact the IRS at 800.829.1040 or irs.gov. IRS employees at that line can help you if there really is an issue. Also check out the IRS’s list of imposter scams.

Canada: Check out the CRA’s fraud webpage for their contact information and details on accessing your online account.

Check out millions of BBB Business Reviews at bbb.org. File a complaint, give a customer review, report a scam, read our blog, follow us on social media, and more!

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