There are steps you can take to avoid becoming victimized by a gypsy contractor, according to Dante Angelus, owner of Motola's Paving in Lehighton.

First and foremost, if work is being done that you did not authorize, or if the contractor is using high-pressure tactics, immediately call the police.

Do not let them into your residence, and be sure all doors out of sight are locked.

Some other tips by Angelus:

Consumers should only do business with a properly registered company in good standing with the PA Attorney General's office. All contractors doing business in the state have to be registered, and must display the registration number on advertising, cost proposals, and invoices.

Get estimates. Do not let a contrator tell you that the only way he can honor an estimated prices is if you sign a contract immediately.

Consider checking out the company with the Better Business Bureau. Angelus said, "Even companies that do not pay to be BBB accredited are given ratings based on past information. Their on-line search tool is a useful function."

Get references. Don't hire a company on the spot. Check with others about the firm and its work quality.

Mostly, if you do become a victim, or feel a firm is trying to scam you, don't try to outsmart the gypsies. Instead, call your police department.