If you've been thinking that scammers will use absolutely any crisis or situation to try to extract money from your pockets, you are absolutely right. This polar vortex, or frigid weather system we're currently receiving is another opportunity for them.

We know all about furnaces and air conditioners going out here in the Rockford area, because unfortunately for us, we run both the heat and the AC pretty heavily at certain times of the year.

If you lose your AC in the summer time, it's a pain in the butt and things (including you) get really hot. If your furnace goes out in weather like Rockford is dealing with right now, it can quickly become a very dangerous situation, where you worry not only about your pipes freezing up, but the very real possibility of you and your family freezing to death.

That's why one of several scams working their way through the Rockford area is so despicable.

After receiving a note regarding "freeze scams" from the Rockford Regional Office of the Better Business Bureau's (BBB) director, Dennis Horton, I called Dennis at the BBB office for some clarification on what's going on.

Me: So Dennis, scammers are showing up at people's front door during this super-cold weather system. What's the scam they're trying to pull?

BBB's Dennis Horton: Scammers are quick to offer furnace inspections before the cold hits. If someone shows up at your door or calls and offers to inspect your furnace or heating system, and demands cash up front, you are best served by turning down the offer.

Me: And, according to the BBB report, it's not just furnace scams, right?

BBB's Dennis Horton: The same advice holds true for those offering shoveling and plowing services during or following a snowstorm. If you need snow-clearing services, ask for invoices and never pay cash up front.

Me: The BBB report also says that some scam artists are using this stunningly cold weather system to scare potential victims into paying the scammers for some made-up "past due bill" to keep from having the homeowner's heat turned off for non-payment. That's just horrible.

BBB's Dennis Horton: In Illinois, utility companies are prohibited from shutting off service during times of inclement weather. If you are concerned about an overdue bill, contact your utility company directly. Always call the customer service number on your bill when dealing with any utility company.

Remember, no utility sends their people to your door to collect money, especially in the form of a pre-paid debit or credit card.


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