Quick Tips: Knock Knock. Scammers Calling.

May 19, 2016

Summer is coming and if your neighborhood is anything like mine, an increase in temperature also means an increase in door-to-door solicitors. While there are plenty of legitimate businesses that sell door-to-door, it’s also an opportunity for scammers. Here are some tips for keeping your family, and your hard-earned dollars, safe.

Be careful with what information you offer
Don’t mention things like living alone, getting ready to head out of town, or that your ferocious-looking dog wouldn’t hurt a fly.

Don’t fall for high-pressure sales tactics
Pressure to take immediate action should be a red flag. A scammer will want you to take action before your better judgement takes over. If you’re not interested, just say no and repeat it as many times as necessary. You can always close your door; you don’t have to be polite. A legitimate business will not be put off by your desire for more information or to make a decision later.

Do your homework
A salesperson should be able to provide the company’s legal name, address, telephone number, and licensing information. You should be able to independently verify all of this information. Most cities require a license to sell door-to-door and you can ask to see that license. Look for reviews on the business and check them out with the Better Business Bureau (BBB).

Learn from your neighbors
Apps like Nextdoor, neighborhood watch groups, and homeowner’s association or neighborhood social media pages can be valuable sources of information. People who live near you can report experiences with companies selling door-to-door.  Some local law enforcement agencies are even using Nextdoor to send messages to areas targeted by scammers.

Review the terms in conditions
Legitimate details will be in writing. Be wary of verbal promises. Look for information on the commitment period, total price, and cancellation instructions. Just like any other agreement, make sure your read and understand any contract before you sign.

Act on your regret
If you make a purchase from a door-to-door salesperson and later regret it, the Federal Trade Commission’s cooling-off rule may give you three days to cancel for full refund for a purchase over $25 made at your home. If you do feel like you've been the victim of fraud, report it to Colorado's Attorney General's office.

Remember, you are under no obligation to answer your door. There’s no need to pretend like you aren’t home either. The salesperson will eventually move on to the next house. And consider this, whoever is at your door is probably offering a service you don’t need. If you do need new roof or lawn care assistance, for example, you could easily find a legitimate business on your own.

This post was written by Lisa Fedak, Creative Services Manager at Colorado PERA. If you’d like to submit a guest post, please email us at dimecontact@copera.org.