The Real Threat of Door-to-Door Scams
With the warm weather comes increased door-to-door activity, including salespeople and charity representatives. With these activities comes a great deal of opportunity for scam artists, and it is important to review the proper way to handle such encounters in order to protect yourself.
Rule #1: Limit Interaction at the Door
Some people will identify the caller through the peephole or window and then simply ignore them if they suspect a sales pitch. That is not necessarily a bad strategy. After all, if you do not interact with them, then there is no chance that you can fall prey to their tricks. That approach may not always be practical. What is practical is that you limit the conversation. If, for instance, a salesperson presents something of interest, then tell them so, but inform them that you are too busy to discuss it now and will call them to schedule a meeting later.
Rule #2: Demand Identification
Legitimate salespeople will have identification that clearly identifies him or herself and the company represented. If it is a painter or someone that may not have ID, then simply ask for a business card and resume the conversation over the phone. A popular fraud involves the scam artist representing a security company. Keep in mind that actual security companies will very rarely approach you in this fashion, and this is normally used as an opportunity to steal your identity or gain access to your home at a later point when you are not present.
Rule #3: Never Buy or Donate Without Doing Your Homework
There can be exceptions to this rule, such as purchasing Girl Scout Cookies or donating to your local fire department. For the most part, however, you never want to give cash, a check or credit card or other personal information at the door. This business can always be conducted later, over the phone even, once you have the opportunity to the vet the salesperson and the company they represent. Make full use of the resources you have available, including the Better Business Bureau, the local Chamber of Commerce and online communities for consumers.
Rule #4: If It Sounds Too Good to Be True, It Is.
The promise of free stuff is a popular tool for phishers because it can make you amenable. If someone informs you that you have just won $10,000 and you believe them, then without any conscious reasoning you form a bond with that person. Once that happens, the criminal exploits that bond. That is why it so important to remain levelheaded. If you have actually won a prize, the organization awarding it will actually go to great lengths to remove any kind of doubt you may have.
Rule #5: Immediately Reject High-Pressure Sales
A good rule of thumb is to reject any form of high-pressure sales, and this rule is particularly important at your doorstep. Keep in mind that door-to-door sales do not have a high success rate. If a salesperson gets you to take their business card and receives a promise of a call later on, then that is a win for them. The need to close the deal right then and there is a warning flare that you should never ignore.