There are good, legitimate, local roofing companies…and then there are roofing scam artists who give roofers a bad name. The same holds true for direct marketing companies. And unfortunately, the recent tornadoes in Rowlett and Garland have brought out both types of companies who give their industries a bad name.
We have been warning North Texas homeowners for years about the top 5 roofing red flags to watch out for. One of those involves direct marketing companies who are focused on gaining sales lead they sell to other companies.
3) Sales Lead Generation Companies
A newer type of scam reported to NTRCA is one where lead generation companies, disguised as “roofing damage experts” call areas that have received storm damage. They call and use a script that carefully avoids identifying themselves by a company name and tell homeowners “we’ll be in your area next week.” When the homeowner agrees to an appointment with the no-name company, that company turns around and sells the lead to a roofing company, which could be a legitimate roofing contractor…or not. NTRCA recommends that if consumers get a call like this that they simply ask, “What company are you representing?” and “What is your address?” If they hesitate or side-step the question, NTRCA recommends that the homeowner simply hang up.
Since we wrote about this, we’ve seen a new tactic called “Caller ID Spoofing,” where companies that are NOT local are cold calling homeowners, making it look like the call is coming from a 972-412-xxxx exchange, a popular prefix in Rowlett.
Dallas Morning News writer Dave Lieber brought this to light in a recent article and reported: “Someone was calling Rowlett residents last week and saying they were going to be in the recipient’s neighborhood looking at damaged roofs. They asked if the call recipient would be home.” When Lieber tried to call the 10 numbers one homeowner gave him, most didn’t answer or weren’t working. One had a voicemail greeting stating that if they received a call from the number, it wasn’t them and that their number had been spoofed.
It’s most likely that whoever is calling Rowlett residents with a vague sales pitch to get appointments to look at roofs may or may not be a roofing company.
“The ‘lead generation company’ may be a company in Canada or Mexico or some offshore location,” says Don Williams, who has been in the direct marketing industry for 30 years and is the president of Alliance, a professional call center services company located in Hurst, Texas. “Or it could be a one-person operation who generates their own leads and sells their ‘discards’ to their competitors.”
Caller ID Spoofing is not illegal, but calling a number on the Do Not Call (DNC) registry is.
“Out of 17,399 definite or probable homeowners within the City of Rowlett, 15,452 (88%) are DNC or unlisted, with most being DNC,” said Williams. “That means that only 1,947 phones are legally callable.”
Some tips for homeowners who may receive these kinds of calls:
- If you get an unsolicited call and you are on the DNC, violations can be reported to (www.donotcall.gov)
- If you get a call from a roofing company or someone claiming that they’ll be in your area looking at roofs and you are not on the DNC list, ask them: “What company are you representing?” and “What is your address?” If they hesitate or side-step the question, we recommend that you simply hang up.
- Always do your research before hiring a roofing contractor. Unlike plumbers, electricians or even hair stylists, the state of Texas does not have any kind of licensing or registration for roofers or general contractors in Texas.
- Use this List of Questions from NTRCA as a guide to help you select a roofer (click here for the list of questions in Spanish).
- Don’t let a contractor rush you into signing a contract.
- Do not hand over your insurance check to anyone. And do not pay a deposit until materials are delivered.
- Read about the Top 5 Roofing scams to look out for in North Texas.
- Despite all our warnings about the bad guys out there, there are plenty of good, local roofing contractors too. Choose a contractor who is a member of a trade association such as NTRCA. Our members MUST be local and meet other important requirements plus agree to abide by our code of ethics in order to become and stay a member.
- Finally, keep in mind that legitimate companies use local Caller ID (aka spoofing) too. The difference is that the legitimate company answers that number when you call back (required by law). The legitimate use of numbers provides advertisers (who may be located in the area, in a neighboring city or another state) a method to track response, sales, ROI, etc.
Get more advice or search for an NTRCA member at www.ntrca.com.