Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Sunny with a chance of door-to-door scammers

One fine day a young couple showed up at my door drunk and dirty trying to sell magazines so she could win some trip. It was late evening and starting to get dark. I know that I don’t have to answer the door but sometimes that is out of my control because 1) my 5 year old sometimes runs to the door and flings it open 2) sometimes we leave the wooden door open and just the storm door is closed.

Door-to-door salespeople are more than just a nuisance, often there are trained scammers. My recent run-in was similar to this scam in which teenagers are recruited to pull off a magazine selling scam. Some other common scam characteristics are:

- They may greet you by name, saying that a neighbor referred them. Actually they’ve sifted through your mail or some listing directory.
- They prey on your good nature by whining when you say “no” and claim that some children in a third-world country are counting on your support.
- They want to make it easy for you so they’ll split offer installment plans on your credit card.
- They’ll show you identification with a company name and their picture. But remember, anyone make something off a home printer.
- They’ll use tricks to slide into your home. Such as showing you how well their product cleans your dirtiest spots.
You stand to lose much more than a bit of cash to door-to-door scammers. If you do make a purchase and you give them a check or credit card number, you’ve just handed over valuable personal information.
If a product really seems legitimate, and it is something that you are interested in, ask for a brochure or business card. A legitimate product will always be available later. But don’t get talked into filling out a "request for information" or any other form. This is likely an attempt to collect your personal information.
Of course you have the right to just not answer the door, but that may not be the best idea either. In a recent rash of burglaries in my neighborhood the thieves actually posed as door-to-door salesmen. And, when a door wasn’t answered they attempted to open it anyway. For the homeowners who tried ignoring the initial knock the result was much worse.
Many towns and home owners associations are requiring door-to-door solicitors to register and attain permits before canvassing neighborhoods. That’s great because you always ask to see the permit and you’ll know which businesses are legitimate, but that’s not until after they’ve rung your doorbell.
I’m considering adding something that I believe to be very ugly to my front door. It’s a “No Soliciting” sign. I also don’t like them because I don’t want to scare off everyone. I want the guy who does our aeration to stop by because I can never find his phone number. I want the Boys Scouts and Girl Scouts to sell me cookies and popcorn. But, now that the weather is getting consistently warmer the door-to-door scammers are multiplying.
Oh well, what’s one little sign anyway? Hey, while I’m at it maybe I’ll put up a “No Pooping” to shoo away my neighbor’s dog, and then a “No Butts” for the Marlboro smoker who likes my lawn so much. Let’s see what else could I add….

No comments:

Post a Comment