The classic door-to-door scam lives on ...

If you just happen to be at home during the day, there is at least a 50/50 chance that you will encounter a door-to-door sales person.  Though some of them are honest with good intentions, there is also a good chance that others are prepared to rip you off. 

Perhaps they're selling home improvement services such as storm windows or siding.  Maybe it's products to furnish you kitchen.  It could be magazines, living trusts or funeral contracts.  They may want to sweep your chimney, clean your gutters or touch up the finish on your front porch.  While these services may be of use, it is very important to remain weary of these people.  After reading this, you'll be relieved that you made the decision not to let them in.

Whether male or female, door-to-door scam artists are usually friendly and very charming.  Their demeanor is warm, their smiles rather inviting.  They train themselves to appear as honest as possible in order to pull off these deceptive schemes. 

Characteristics of door-to-door scam artists: 

- You are greeted by name, an attempt to establish a trusting relationship.  A scammer may acquire this information by sifting through your mail or via a directory listing.

- They will use a variety of tricks to slide into your home.  Perhaps they pretend to be a technician from your utility company and would like to test your furnace, water pressure or electricity.  Maybe they would like to demonstrate how a product or service works.  Never allow a creative story to diminish your level of caution on whom you decide to let in your home.

- Many of them will approach you outside of the home, leaving you with nowhere to hide and no doors to close.

- They usually want cash up front for their products or services.  Some of them will accept a check and cash it before you even have chance to change your mind and stop payment on it. 

- A door-to-door scam artist will use social engineering tactics to play on your sympathy.  They will attempt to make you feel horrible for not making the purchase, explaining that kids in some third-world country will go hungry; they may even throw your own family into the mix.

- They will claim to have been strictly assigned to work in your area.  When asked for past clients, the scammer responds by telling you that information is confidential. 

Protecting Yourself              

You can protect yourself by never allowing anyone that you do not know into your home.  Regardless of how legitimate the product may seem, it is more than okay to refuse and send them on their way.  In order to spare their feelings and not appear rude, you can tell them that you would first like to inquire with a spouse or other family members.  Since honesty is never a bad route, you can also tell them that you are not ready to make such a decision or commitment at the time. 

If a sales pitch does sound interesting, and many of them will, be sure that you ask to view the salesperson's credentials.  Many neighborhood communities require that these individuals have a license or permit when making such propositions.  If they provide a document, look for a phone number and call the business office that distributes such permits in your area.  Simply using a number given from their wallet is likely to lead you to another scam artist helping to cover their tracks.   

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Fraud causes hundreds of millions of dollars in damage each year and affects just as many people.

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