Beware Scams That Come With The Cold: Consumer Group

January 28, 2019 - 9:22 pm

(WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- Some scam artists are just getting warmed up as the brutal cold weather sets in.

Steve Bernas, who heads the local branch of the Better Business Bureau, says cold weather-related scams come in several forms.

One involves scammers who claim to be from utilities. The con artists try to convince people that there's a potential emergency situation that needs immediate inspection. While the fake utility worker is with the victim, Bernas said, another person sneaks into the home and robs it.

Another scam involves people pretending to be from utilities who call victims and claim their heat or electricity will be turned off within 30 minutes unless they immediately pay overdue utility bills.

Bernas said scammers sometimes ask for payment in wire transfers or gift cards.

“Consumers should be aware that companies have to offer payment assistance plans before they terminate your services, and it could be illegal for such services to be shut off during the winter months,” Bernas said.

In yet another scam, sometimes people will offer to help shovel or plow snow, insist on payment up front, then take off without doing the work.

“The tip-off to the rip-off for any of these scams is someone asking you for cash up front because they can easily just take the money and run, leaving you empty handed with no recourse,” Bernas said.