It’s National Chimney Safety Week, and we at the Chimney Safety Institute of America are sounding the alarm about scammers who may try to prey on consumers’ lack of expertise when it comes to chimneys and how they operate in your home. As winter approaches, so do scam artists trying to take your money for chimney-cleaning services they are not trained to provide.

Today is the third of the four most-common scams that we’ll be spotlighting here at the blog this week.

Scam #3: Falsified experience

Have you ever made a purchase at one of those seasonal stores that tend to pop up around a holiday? You know the ones we mean. Halloween World, or whatever it may be called, opens in a vacant store front in mid-September and then shutters its doors by the first week of November.

While you may have a degree of comfort picking up a Halloween costume at one of those businesses, so-called fly-by-night operations that provide chimney sweep services should set off alarm bells in your head.

Every fall, such businesses pop up nationwide as demand for chimney inspection and cleaning services spikes before families start using their fireplaces and heating systems for the winter.

The boldest scam artists set up their short-term operations and simply lie about the industry experience and affiliations in an attempt to make a quick buck by providing less than adequate service.

As you look to schedule your annual chimney inspection, secure references from each of the companies you’re considering in order to confirm their reputation in the community. Go further and contact your local Better Business Bureau or state consumer protection office for additional background information about a company’s history, and do research to find out how long a company has been in the community.

Knowledge is power, and understanding the legitimacy of the company you plan to hire goes a long way to ensuring the safety of your home.

Return to the blog tomorrow when we shine our spotlight on another common chimney scam.

Read Scam #2: Emergency repairs

Read Scam #1: Pricing tricks