As winter approaches, the Better Business Bureau warns consumers about four different scams that can rob them of their hard-earned money.

Spokesman Dan Buchta began with the 'Handyman Scam'.

"They show up at your door offering to do jobs around the house," Buchta said. "They take a look at what needs to be done and then provide you with a verbal estimate. Then, they ask you for half the money upfront, and that should be a red flag right there."

The next scam occurs after a major storm.

"After a wind or hail storm that has damaged your roof or siding, unlicensed and unregistered tradespeople show up offering very inexpensive repairs, and just like the handyman scam, they'll ask for half the money upfront, and there's a good chance you'll never see them again."

The next is the 'Charity Cheat'.

This is when people show up at your door collecting money for a well-known charity, asking you to contribute in cash," he said. "Many times it might just be $20 to $50, but they can get away with a lot of money in a short period of time."

And finally, there's the 'Cold Weather Scam'.

"We've actually had a few of these in Montana," he said. "They wait for cold weather and then show up claiming to be from Northwestern Energy, threatening to shut off your power if you don't pay off your bill in cash. Of course, Northwestern Energy never works that way. They have very detailed procedures they are required to follow before shutting off the power to a household, and they never do it in person or on the phone."

Buchta added that the Better Business Bureau offers a way to find out what scams are being perpetrated  in your area online.

"If you go to our Better Business Bureau website, you can check out our scamtracker," he said. "It's updated in real time, and show exactly the scams being offered all over the country. You can zoom all the way into Montana and into Missoula to see in real time, what scams are underway right here in your own neighborhood."

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