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New York State Attorney General Warns of Cold Weather Scams

Friday may have been a brilliant, sunny fall day but now is the time to prepare for winter scams.

New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman laid out tips to prevent being a victim while visiting Binghamton Friday. Among the tips, shop around, insist on a written contract, don't pay unreasonable advanced fees, get references, and know your rights.

Seniors are especially vulnerable, especially after serious events such as major snow storms. One out of every six people in Binghamton is a senior citizen.

"It's usually a very bad idea to say yes during the initial conversation. You should shop around and see if there are others providing the services. You have the right to get a contract in writing. If you have an agreement with a contractor or someone who provides services if someone will not put it in writing there's something wrong with them," said Schneiderman.

Scam artists often take advantage of extreme weather and low temperatures by preying on legitimate concerns of homeowners. Common cold weather scams include fraudulent chimney sweeping or duct/furnace services complete with bogus “inspections” where you could face huge charges. Some scammers go as far as impersonating employees of utility companies and calling home owners threatening to shut off the heat or electricity unless they pay fraudulent charges.

If you feel you are the victim of a scam, you should call the Attorney General's Consumer Frauds Bureau at 1-800-771-7755