Consumer Ally Alert: Big Snow Could Mean Roof Clearing Ripoffs

winter weather scams snow roof clearingWith much of the Midwest and East Coast still reeling from recent storms, officials say unethical contractors are taking advantage of consumers who hire them to clear snow and ice from roofs.

As the flakes fall, roof snow removal services appear on flyers, neighborhood bulletin boards and on faxes. It doesn't mean the crews are legit, Connecticut Better Business Bureau President Paulette Scarpetti said in a statement."It is rare that we have this much snow accumulation on roofs, and it is a money-maker for individuals and contractors because of the importance of removing the excess weight and ice as quickly as possible," she said. "If the contractor is not trained, there is the potential of damaging or even destroying a roof."

In addition to roof damage, officials have received complaints about companies offering an estimate and then charging double or triple the amount after completing the work. Some removal crews have provided expired insurance certificates, meaning that the workers had no liability coverage at all.

With another month of winter remaining (at least), home owners can take matters into their own hands by removing excess snow with a "snow rake," being careful not to damage roof and gutters.

But if you hire a company, here are tips from the BBB:

  • It is essential to demand proof of up-to-date insurance or workers compensation from the contractor. That way, if someone is injured, the customer won't be liable.
  • Obtain estimates from more than one company.
  • Ask for references and check them out.
  • Ask about any additional charges or fees that could occur.
  • Always get a written contract. Someone should come out to examine your property and given you an estimate in writing, not promise a price over the phone.

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