Colorado Hail Storms Slam Homeowners

 No Roof Scams Group Offers Homeowners Key Ways to Avoid Roofing Scam Artists

Roofer Checking Hail Damage

Homeowners with roof damage following recent hail storms should take plenty of time and do their homework before hiring a roof contractor, according to a group of nonprofit, government, and business organizations sponsoring the No Roof Scams campaign to fight roofing contractor fraud in Colorado.

The recent storms in Colorado Springs, Eaton, and surrounding communities pummeled homes and businesses with hail the size of golf and tennis balls damaging thousands of roofs. Colorado is number two in the country for insurance claims filed due to property damage from hail, which makes our state a magnet for fraudulent roof contractors. These storm-chasing, fly-by-night scam artists will often make false promises, insist on full payment upfront before work is completed, and sometimes they say they’re inspecting your roof when in fact they are creating damage where none occurred.

The No Roof Scams coalition advises homeowners to avoid being victimized by fraudulent contractors by doing the following:

  • Take your time when selecting a contractor.  Many contractors use fear tactics such as telling homeowners their ceiling or roof may collapse without immediate repairs.  Don’t fall for this ploy.
  • Most legitimate local roofing contractors do not knock on doors after a storm.  This is a classic technique utilized by out-of-state contractors who have no local presence.
  • Check out contractors before hiring anyone with two of Colorado’s excellent resources.
  • Get more than one estimate; make sure any contract includes all information required by Colorado law (http://coloradoroofing.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/SB38FactSheet-20122.pdf).
  • Never pay a contractor in full or sign a completion certificate until all the work is completed.
  • Never sign a contract with blanks or statements like “see insurance estimate, etc.” – fraudulent contractors may enter unacceptable terms later.
  • Under Colorado Law a contractor cannot pay, waive or rebate the homeowner’s insurance deductible.

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 (Department 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 to learn more about how consumers can avoid being the victims of unethical roofing contractors and find reputable roofing contractors.

“Invulnerability Illusion” Means Millennials More Likely to Get Scammed than Boomers

The stereotype of the “little old lady” as scam victim is wrong, and Millennials are actually more vulnerable to scams than Baby Boomers. That’s the conclusion of new research by the BBB Institute for Marketplace Trust (BBB Institute). Marketplace scams affect one in four North American households each year at an estimated loss to individuals and families of $50 billion, yet most consumers believe they are invulnerable.

“This research is so vital, not only to stop scammers from hurting consumers, but to help businesses,” said Mary E. Power, president and CEO of the Council of Better Business Bureaus (CBBB). “That $50 billion ‘underground’ economy is stealing from the legitimate marketplace. Every dollar lost to a scam is a dollar not spent at a lawful, trustworthy business.”

The research, Cracking the Invulnerability Illusion: Stereotypes, Optimism Bias, and the Way Forward for Marketplace Scam Education, is based on a survey of more than 2,000 adults in the U.S. and Canada. Participants were asked about their perceived vulnerability to scams, who they think is most likely to be scammed, and about the factors that helped them to avoid being scammed. The participants did not know that BBB was the sponsor of the survey.

Download “Cracking the Invulnerability Illusion” at BBB.org/TruthAboutScams

“We’ve bought into stereotypes about scam victims – they’re usually seen as vulnerable and elderly, or gullible and poorly educated,” noted the paper’s co-author Emma Fletcher, product manager with the BBB Institute, CBBB’s foundation. “These stereotypes are strongly held… and they are wrong. We are all at risk, but younger and more educated individuals are actually the most likely to be scammed.”

“Optimism bias – the idea that we all think other people are more vulnerable than we are – is associated with risk-taking and failure to heed precautionary advice,” said co-author Rubens Pessanha, CBBB director of marketing research and insights. “Seniors may be the one group that does not suffer from optimism bias when it comes to scams. They’ve heard, loud and clear, that they are at risk. Seniors may very well be more scam savvy than others. They are also less impulsive buyers than younger consumers, and less likely to be making purchases online where so many scams take place.”

The new research also confirms some trends noted in BBB Scam Tracker, a crowd-sourced reporting tool. More than 30,000 consumers have reported details of scams to BBB since the site was launched in late 2015, and reports are shared with law enforcement to drive investigations. Of those consumers reporting scams to BBB Scam Tracker, 89% of seniors (age 65 and up) recognized the scam in time, while only 11% reported actually losing money. For those age 18-24, however, more than three times as many failed to recognize the scam – 34% reported losing money. Armed with this information, BBB is calling for a new direction for how society approaches the problem of fraud. The report recommends a three-pronged approach:

  1. Leverage Technology, Crowdsourcing and Altruism: Targets of scams feel empowered when they can take back some control by reporting what has happened to them in order to help warn others. This altruistic impulse is the number one motivator for reporting scams. As noted in the report, “The voices and stories of others have the potential to normalize the problem in a positive way, shedding the shame and stigma of victimization with the message that, if it can happen to other people like me, it can happen to me.”
  1. Take Aim at the Optimism Bias: Consumer education must heighten perceptions of personal risk and provide information that boosts confidence in one’s ability to protect oneself. Motivation to take protective action requires both the sense that one is vulnerable and the tools to do something about it. Effective public education must take a twofold approach; it must confront its audience with messaging that runs counter to stereotypes and perceived invulnerability, while simultaneously providing information that empowers individuals to avoid becoming victims.
  1. Provide Preemptive Information: Survey participants, when asked what might have prevented them from being scammed, said knowing about different scam types and understanding common methods used by scammers prior to being targeted would have helped. Nearly 80% of respondents identified one of these two factors as most protective; only one in five felt doing research after being approached by a scammer was most protective.