Natural disasters such as tornadoes can bring out the best in people, as strangers reach out to help others in need. Unfortunately, crises also bring out those who choose to take advantage of the victims. According to the Better Business Bureau, one of the most common “after-disaster” scams involves roofs.

Whether your roof got hit hard by a natural disaster or just needs to be replaced due to time, take precautions when it comes to hiring a roofing contractor. In 2011, BBB received more than 3.3 million inquiries from consumers looking to find a roofer they could trust – making it the top inquired industry in the BBB system.

If you need a new roof or just a repair, your BBB advises:

Do your research. Check with your insurance company about policy coverage and specific filing requirements. Save all receipts if temporary roofing repairs are necessary.

Stay calm. Although you may be anxious to get things back to normal, avoid letting emotions get the better of you. Don’t be pressured into making an immediate decision with a long-term impact.

Shop around. Get three to four estimates based on the same specifications and materials. Check out references and verify that the contractor is required to be licensed and/or registered to do work in your area. Also, check with your local building inspector to see if a building permit is required.

Avoid high-pressure sales tactics. Be wary of door-to-door workers who claim to have leftover materials from a job “down the street” or who do not have a permanent place of business.

Get everything in writing. Clearly written proposals that are detailed and broken down into separate line items are a good sign that the contractor is thorough and has prepared an accurate estimate. Require a written contract that includes their name, address, license number and phone number. Read and understand the contract in its entirety, don’t sign a blank contract, and make sure you get a copy of the signed contract at the time of signature.  Some contracts include a clause where substantial cancellation fees or liquidation damages are required if the homeowner decides not to use the contractor after insurance approval of the claim. In some instances you may be required to pay the full agreed price if you cancel after the three-day cancellation period.

Start With Trust. For trustworthy consumer tips and information, visit or call 970-484-1348 or 800-564-0371.