Rock Talk

As residents race to clear roofs, it’s the perfect storm for schemes

Last updated on March 4, 2020 at 10:42 am

“Keep snow off your roof” is a mantra that’s reverberated throughout the region since we started getting pounded by snowstorms. But while people scramble to have their roofs cleared to avoid collapses and ice dams, they’ve unknowingly also become targets for scammers.

According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB), there’s an increased risk of scammers going door to door in affected areas offering snow removal and other repair services to vulnerable residents, especially elderly people. Shady contractors are capitalizing on peoples’ desperation by posing as legitimate businesses and promising quality work for a certain price.

However, these scammers will often pocket a payment and never show up for the job, quote at one price and then charge a higher fee, never complete a job that was started or perform a mediocre job using inferior materials. Residents in Wayland and Bedford, Mass. have already been cheated out of thousands of dollars from such schemes, as reported by CBS Boston and NECN, respectively.

So, while it’s a race to clear snow from your roof to prevent collapses or ice dams, it’s important to be critical and cautious if you’re considering hiring outside help. Individuals offering snow, ice and tree removal services do not need to be licensed as a home improvement contractor, according to the state Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulations. With that in mind, before you hire a company or an individual, ask if they are licensed and make sure they’re at least properly insured.

In addition to researching a contractor’s insurance, consider these tips from the NICB before hiring a contractor:

  • Take pictures of your property before, during and after the repairs
  • Get quotes from multiple contractors
  • Create a paper trail: get the cost proposal, work to be performed, work and payment schedules, guarantees and other expectations in writing
  • Request references
  • Never sign a contract with blank spaces
  • Don’t let a contractor pressure you into hiring him or her
  • Contact your insurance carrier if you have any questions or doubts

And remember, most of these scams are unsolicited – the contractor will approach you. So, as the NICB puts it, “if you didn’t request it, reject it.”

Headquartered in Boston, Plymouth Rock Assurance Corporation provides auto insurance to personal and commercial auto insurance customers in Massachusetts and Connecticut. Plymouth Rock is a member of The Plymouth Rock Group of Companies, which together write and manage over $1 billion in auto and homeowners insurance throughout the northeast.

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