THE STATE Attorney General's office receives thousands of complaints each year about no-show or shoddy home-improvement work. To avoid trouble, the AG's office advises that consumers:

1. Make sure the contractor is registered in Pennsylvania. Visit www.attorneygeneral.gov or call 1-888-520-6680.

The registration includes a contractor's contact and insurance information; company description; information on prior home improvement businesses; names of anyone with an interest in the business; any contractor licenses; bankruptcy, criminal plea and conviction history for home-improvement fraud; and a map showing where the business is located.

2. Check the contractor's standing with the Better Business Bureau at http://dc-easternpa.bbb.org.

3. Ask for references from previous customers and check them all.

4. Get more than one estimate before signing anything.

5. Finally, to report an unregistered contractor (those who earn more than $5,000 from their business), call the Home Improvement Registration Hotline at 1-888-520-6680. Complaints about unregistered contractors may also be emailed to the Attorney General's Office at HIC@attorneygeneral.gov.