Scam warnings ahead of severe weather season

Local

Two major hail storms that battered the Pikes Peak region in Summer 2018, cost homeowners thousands of dollars. Scammers that descended on the community cost some people even more.

“First thing you see after a hail storm like that is a bunch of trucks you’ve never seen before. They’re just there for the money,” said Thomas Hennessey, the sales manager for Colorado Springs-based Rampart Roofing Inc.

Hennessey says, their sales tripled during August through December because of the late summer storm. Roofing work around the region continues because of the hail storms in June and August.

“It’s really a sensitive situation. The first time around a lot of people is happy because they probably needed a new roof anyway. Second time around, they’re like, “Ugh, we just did this.” said Hennessey.

State Farm reports claims from one storm in Fountain caused $169 million in damage.

With so much money in insurance claims, companies flock from around the country to try to tap into the projects, filling gaps some area companies might not be able to keep up with. 

“Whether you call them fly-by-knights, storm chasers, door by door, you’re always going to get those,” said Greg Dingrando, the Public Information Officer for the Pikes Peak Regional Building Department. “Now, not all of them are bad. I mean, there are some that go door to door and are legitimate contractors but, it falls on that homeowner to make sure you’re doing the research.”

Dingrando says the PPRBD website is one place where potential customers can check on a contractor’s record.

Scammers have been known to skip town with down payments, poorly finish a project, or pass the buck of responsibility by making the customer get the permit. Dingrando says contractors should always be the one to permit a project.

“That’s the best way to do it because that then puts all of the responsibility onto the contractor, rather than pulling the permit for them, because all that responsibility falls back on you.”

He also suggests that, if a contractor were to offer other services, to check if they are licensed to provide them.

When it comes to down payments, a customer should never pay everything up front. A down payment is likely, but it’s best to make sure it is affordable and equal to what a contract requires. 

With back-to-back storms, some less-than-reputable companies try to offer discounts or rebates on deductibles, trying to take advantage of financially-vulnerable homeowners.

“By state law, we can’t cover those. We can’t give discounts or rebates or anything like that to help with that cost,” said Hennessey.

Hennessey says, doing so much is insurance fraud, a crime where contractors and customers can be punished for.

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