There are millions of roofs in America, and thousands of contractors who service them. Most of these contractors are upstanding individuals who do their work honestly, quickly, and well. A few contractors, however, are just out to make a quick buck off of unsuspecting homeowners. If your house is located somewhere mother nature often wreaks havoc, or if your roof is visibly damaged, here are some common roofing contractor scams to watch out for.

1. The disappearing down payment. Frequently, a shady contractor will claim he needs money up-front to buy materials before any items are delivered or any of his tools are stored on-site. Be careful not to sign over insurance or settlement checks to roofing contractors at the beginning of the project. Trustworthy contractors will generally invest some of their own money into your project at the beginning without asking for a large up-front sum.

2. The storm chaser. He’ll ring your doorbell in the aftermath of a destructive storm, when you’re still in shock and haven’t had the time to calmly assess the full extent of damage to your property. Roofing scammers have been known to offer free roof inspections, then simulate wind and hail damage by tearing off shingles or using a ball-peen hammer to make round holes on your roof.

3. The high-pressure salesman. He’ll keep telling you that you have to “buy now to get the best price!” As with any big purchase, consider researching the average cost of a new roof or roofing repairs by getting quotes from several different contractors. If the salesman mentions needing money up front, refuses to leave when you ask him to, or demands that both homeowners be there to make a decision on the spot, he’s likely not to be trusted. Call the police if he won’t leave your house when you tell him to.

4. The surprisingly low-cost estimate. If a contractor promises an offer too good to be true, it’s probably a scam. Shady roofing contractors are infamous for not mentioning expensive materials up front, and then inflating their true price when it’s time to pay.

It’s OK to move slowly with roofing contractors, especially when large-scale repairs or lots of money are involved. Before signing a contract, make sure it specifies when work will start and finish.

Feel free to ask to see a physical copy of a roofing contractor’s proof of insurance and licensing paperwork, as well as references that you can speak to. You can even take the time to drive by the office of anyone you plan on hiring – to make sure that they actually have an office and aren’t flying by night.

With a bit of diligence and research, you’ll be able to avoid any contractor scams in your quest to repair or replace your roof!