It’s always interesting when my doorbell rings in the evening and I’m not expecting company. So my first thought its someone selling something. And I’m right; this person wants to pave my driveway.
The driveway pavers usually come around in the spring, but we have received several calls regarding door-to-door sales the past couple of weeks. Following are the different door to door sales currently going around.
• Water treatment scam. This happens with a lot more frequency now that people believe that their water is somehow unhealthy. The scammers offer a free water testing and, because there is no charge, people often allow them into their homes. As the representative performs the tests, he adds tablets or drops of chemicals to a glass of your tap water, cautioning if the water changes color it could indicate impurities or possibly even cancer-causing agents. Then right on cue, your water changes color before your eyes, and the representative warns of the dangers of drinking your water. Most often the representative wants to sell you a solution to your pollution problem, their equipment. Unfortunately even bottled water from the store would not pass their “test.”
• Home security scams. These con artists target homes that have security company signs posted near the front door. They often wear uniforms of well-known, trusted security companies. They carry clipboards and even use paperwork and electronic devices to further sell their scam. They often claim they are there to replace or upgrade equipment. If they are not there to “case” your home to later rob it, the con artist will ask for a deposit or down payment for the upgraded equipment, stating the victim doesn’t need to fill out the check, they can do that at the office. A blank check is given, and you say goodbye to your money!
• Energy audits scams. With winter right around the corner, this scheme is just in time for the heating season. A “utility” worker and partner show up at the door, indicating they are offering a free inspection of your heating system, windows and doors. Like other scams, they often wear uniforms and clothing that looks official. Then one of the pair diverts your attention, while the other “inspects” your home and steals your valuables.
• Outdoor maintenance scams . These come at you in many forms: Roof repairs, driveway sealing, gutter installation and such. One of the most prevalent scams is perpetrated by “woodchucks,” hucksters who prey on people claiming they will prune your trees before winter. Almost invariably, these people perform low-quality work, if they perform any at all. But most often they start to work and say they are going to get supplies and never return. The catch is they demanded payment in advance, and they leave your job incomplete.
• Bogus charities. Most people have big hearts and are willing to help their fellow man. Unscrupulous schemers prey upon these folks’ generosity and willingness. The charities that these people are collecting for range from cancer victims, disaster relief, firefighters and police to Little League and rescue missions. If you are not familiar with the cause, chances are the intended recipient will receive nothing. As awful as it may sound, these con artists often use their own children to knock on the doors and solicit funds, especially for school- and sports-related activities.
Door-to-door scammers rely on their persuasive skills to bilk the homeowner answering the doorbell, so always be wary when it rings. To avoid the pitfalls of these scams, keep this simple rule in mind: When in doubt, keep strangers out!
Cheryl Parson is president of the Better Business bureau serving West Central Ohio. The BBB may be found on the Internet at www.lima.bbb.org.