This winter has been a rough one! Many places across the US and Canada have been hit by weeks of plunging temperatures and snow storms. As you hope for spring, watch out for scams that take advantage of the winter weather conditions.How the Scam Works:You get a call from someone identifying her/himself as a representative from your local electric or gas company. He or she says you are late on your bill. You need to pay immediately, or your heat will be shut off. However, instead of accepting payment by credit card or check, the caller wants you to pay by prepaid debit card. The scammer instructs you to purchase a card and and call him/her back. Don't do it! Prepaid debit cards are like cash. Once you transfer the money, you will be unable to redeem it. Another Winter Scam: Another common cold weather deception is snow removal scams. Con artists approach homeowners and offer to remove snow from their driveways, sidewalks and roofs. At first, the contractors quote a reasonable price. But when the bill comes, it's much higher. In other cases, scammers may not do the work at all, or they do a poor job, sometimes damaging property. Protect Yourself From Winter Scams: Here are some tips to spot winter weather scams.Confirm identities: Scammers frequently use names and addresses of legitimate companies. Before handing over any money, confirm the caller or contractor's identity by calling the business or utility company yourself. Prepaid debit cards are a red flag: Be very wary of anyone who requests you pay by prepaid debit card or wire transfer. This is a huge warning sign. A real business will almost always accept a check or credit card. Don't cave to pressure to pay immediately: If you feel pressured for immediate payment, just hang up or walk away. Don't let scammers pressure you into a making an on-the-spot decision. Get it in writing: Before hiring a contractor, be sure to get multiple, written quotes. If a price seems too good to be true, be suspicious.For More InformationWant more advice on snow removal? Read more on the BBB blog and see these tips from the BBB of upstate New York. To find out more about other scams, check out BBB Scam Stopper (bbb.org/scam).