CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – As the cold weather moves in many of us are winterizing our homes to keep us warm and reduce heating costs.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is warning consumers that unlicensed contractors and scammers are looking to make a buck at your expense by offering to inspect your furnace, repair your leaky roof, clean your heating ducts, and install insulation, weather proofing, and insulated windows and doors.

And once the snow starts to fall, they’ll have bogus offers to clear snow and ice from your driveway and roof.

The best way to protect yourself is to research contractors before you hand over any money.

  • Get recommendations from people you know and trust.
  • Ask contractors for IDs, licenses, proof of insurance, and references before paying for services. 
  • Search online for the company’s name with words like “scam” or “complaint.”
  • Pay by credit card or check, which offers you protections — never with cash, gift cards, or through wire transfer companies like Western Union or MoneyGram. And only pay in full after the work is done and you’re satisfied with it.
  • Get a contract — never rely on handshake deals. Make sure all promises are in writing and that you understand what you’re signing.

If you suspect a scam, report it to the FTC