Internet and phone scams are so prevalent these days that most are wise to the act, but the old-fashioned, door-to-door variety of scam is still alive and well.
With summer heat finally roaring and plenty of outdoor jobs needing completed, now is the time that many scammers typically choose to make their moves, with the elderly especially vulnerable.
One Bryan resident recently reported a pair of suspected swindlers offered to seal cracks in their driveway.
Bryan Police Chief Mike Willis explained how to avoid the pitfalls of door-to-door scams.
“Anybody that’s out to solicit anything here in Bryan has to have a city permit. So what I would tell the people is ask for that permit,” said Willis. “When they get one, there’s a background check for criminal history and that has to get signed by the mayor.
“If they haven’t got one ... they’re (either) out scamming people or they haven’t got the permit. Either way, they’re not supposed to be out there so I would suggest people call the police department and say, ‘I’ve got people here trying to sell me something and they can’t produce it.’”
Outside of Bryan, look for state or higher credentials, he advised.
“If you ask for any type of permit through the state, the Better Business Bureau, and they can’t produce it, I would get very suspicious,” Willis said.
Then it becomes a matter of dealing with them.
“If they get pushy, close the door on them, call the sheriff’s department, call the police,” he said. “A lot of times what happens, if they are a scammer, they’re going to get pushy with people, they’re not going to let you say no.”
Door-to-door scammers are typically from out of the area, he said.
“They’re usually from out of the area because they don’t want people to recognize them,” he said. “... It kind of picks up some in the summer, we get calls every so often.”
Additional tips from the Better Business Bureau include asking for a photo ID and business card; verifying the individual and company through direct contact to ask if the person is an employee; read business reviews from the BBB; read all contracts closely (get everything in writing); ask to get back to the person later for time to verify; don’t give in to pressure tactics; and avoid door-to-door magazine subscriptions.
Additionally, be advised that the Federal Trade Commission’s Three-Day Cooling-Off Rule gives the customer three days to cancel purchases over $25 that are made in their home or at a location that is not the seller’s permanent place of business. Along with a receipt, salespeople should also include a completed cancellation form that customers can send to the company to cancel the agreement. By law, the company must give customers a refund within 10 days of receiving the cancellation notice.
Lastly, the BBB advises not letting salespeople in the home.
In addition to bogus home maintenance offers, typical scams can include supposed energy utility companies, sales of highly priced and inferior quality meat, donation scams, art students raising funds for tuition or supplies, census or survey scams.