On Aug. 2 communities across the country will participate in National Night Out. The annual event is a community-building campaign meant to encourage police-community partnerships and neighborhood benevolence to make communities safer.
Better Business Bureau serving the Northwest knows the importance of a strong community where neighbors look out for one another. Recently, BBB received multiple reports of scammers going through neighborhoods and knocking on doors with sales pitches designed to trick residents. The warmer weather often brings out salesmen selling products, offering home improvement estimates and even taking donations for charity.
Unfortunately, not all salespeople follow the law. Here are some of the most common door-to-door scams:
- Home Improvement. A contractor shows up offering to do work on your home for a low cost. Fake businesses will take payment upfront and either do a poor job or never return to finish the work.
- Missed you card. Residents report finding a “sorry we missed you” card on their door after someone allegedly tried to deliver a package. The note asks them to call a number and provide personal information to claim the package.
- Voter surveys. Just in time for the presidential election this group claims to be taking a “survey,” but beware if they ask for your Social Security number.
- Charity donations. By tugging at your heart strings these visitors claim to be from a nonprofit raising money or donations for those in need.
- Magazine subscriptions. Solicitors offer subscriptions for a low price and all you have to do is hand over your bank account information.
- Free energy assessments. When the heat rolls in so do these scammers. They inform you that new siding or energy efficient windows are just the ticket to keeping cool. They promise to do the job at a fraction of the cost of competitors.
BBB offers the following tips to ensure you won’t be tricked:
- Keep your cool. Scammers like to pressure their victims into making a quick decision. Don’t give in to their high-pressure sales tactics.
- Ask for documentation. Anyone who solicits at your door should provide proper identification of their business and themselves. If the salesperson lacks credentials, ask them to keep walking.
- Read the fine print. Avoid verbal contracts and ask for a quote in writing. Be aware of any added fees that may pop up after work is completed.
- Review your homeowner’s insurance. There’s a chance the problem with your home is covered by insurance. Be sure to review your policy before hiring help.
- Read reviews. Ask for the company’s name and look up online reviews to ensure they are reputable. You can always visit bbb.org to find out a company’s rating.
Anyone who witnesses suspect or criminal behavior is encouraged to call local law enforcement. To report a business scam call BBB at 206-431-2222 or visit the BBB Scam Tracker page. To find out how you can participate in National Night Out visit natw.org.