Homeowners warned of ‘storm chaser’ scams

Online Staff Report

Area homeowners should be aware of unscrupulous roofing contractors that use high-pressure sales tactics to solicit business from victims of storm damage, the City of Rockford and Better Business Bureau warned Tuesday, April 22.

Officials say it is unlawful for a person to engage in commercial home merchandising door-to-door activities in Rockford without having first obtained a solicitation permit. The permit is required to be easily readable on the individual and includes the City of Rockford logo and name, the soliciting company, organization or association, the name of the solicitor, and the effective dates of the permit.

The permissible hours of solicitation are between 9 a.m., and 8 p.m. Permit holders are also required to pass a background check.

Although the city and Illinois Department of Professional Regulation regulate roofing companies closely, the emergence of “storm-chasers” is common after storms cause damage to area homes.

Every time there is a storm, especially like the (hail) storm we had recently, the out-of-town storm chasers come in and try to pull scams,” Rockford Better Business Bureau Director Dennis Horton said.

Many of the companies are not licensed and often do not perform the work they promise and are paid for, he said.

The City of Rockford verifies contractors are in compliance with state roofing license regulations. Not only does this help ensure that the work will meet minimum standards but it is also important because licensed roofing contractors are required to be insured in order to do business in Illinois. Licensed roofers are also required to have their license number and business name properly identified on their trucks and must use their license number on any bids, advertising or marketing materials.

General contractors are not permitted to provide roofing services unless they also have an active roofing contractor license. If a contractor does subcontract out a roofing job, this should be stated on the contract and include the subcontractor’s business name and license number as the subcontractor is required to be licensed with Illinois. The consumer has a right to know who is actually performing the work and, it is the law.

City of Rockford Construction & Development Services Manager Seth Sommer said: “The city has put these regulations in place to protect the residents of our community.”

Unlicensed roofing is a criminal offense and first offenders can be charged with a Class A misdemeanor and be sentenced to up to 364 days in prison. Subsequent violations are Class 4 felonies that could result in up to three years in prison. 

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