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Update about Door-to-Door Scammers

Scam-AlertOn March 17th we wrote an article about a Kirby van going to homes in our community, looking in homes, and knocking on doors after 9 pm. We have reached out to the Kirby of Wilmington business owner due to the fact the number on the van visiting homes after 9 pm was to the Kirby of Wilmington business. We have also written the NC District Attorney and our local elected officials.

We have not yet received an official response back from the Kirby of Wilmington owner, nor have we received any information back from the District Attorney. Our local elected officials are researching information to see if our local ordinances may be changed to assist in protecting community residents from scammers. 
It is unlawful for door-to-door sales people to knock on anyone’s door after 9 pm. Door-to-door sales people are also required to have a permit to go door-to-door in Bladen County and should be able to show you the permit when they knock on your door. The sales folks should also have photo identification visible when knocking on doors as well. 
We will keep you up to date on any new information we receive about these issues. Please be very careful if you have a stranger approach your home. If you do not feel safe, call 911 immediately. Ask to see the door-to-door sales person’s identification and permit.  
We also found the following informative article and wanted to share it with you. 
We’ve gathered a few cautionary tales and tips to make sure you’re in the know: Door to Door Scammers: We love to help people in need and scammers know that. Often the young man or woman stopping at your door with a great deal on a magazine subscription will casually mention that they’re trying to pay their way through college, help out their local sports team, or support a family member with health issues. Many just need to buy a ticket to get back home. When you hear a sob story, your ears should perk up. It’s great to help out someone in need, but scammers know all the right moves to pull on your heart strings.
 Knock, Knock. Who’s There?: 

If you hear a knock on your door and a stranger is there, use caution. It’s always best to use the peep hole or a window to see who is at the door, before opening it. Particularly, if you are home alone, ask them to identify themselves before opening the door. If you are concerned, it’s absolutely okay to turn them away without opening your door. It’s not rude to protect yourself. Your safety is a priority. If you do turn them away, watch them out the window to make sure they do indeed leave your property. A solicitor must obey any signs you have on your property, such as “No Soliciting” or “No Trespassing.” Signs like these are a great layer of protection. If they do not obey these signs, or leave when asked, make sure to alert your local authorities.

If you decide to open the door, keep them there. Do not invite them in. It’s important to make sure that you’re not alone with a stranger, both for your physical safety and the safety of your wallet. Once a scam artist is in your house, it will be harder to get them to leave without taking their offer. In 2013, AARP published an article about a retired couple in California, Joe and Irene Pellouso, who let a scam artist into their home. The scam artist ultimately sold them a vacuum cleaner for $4,400: twice their monthly income. The couple reported that because of their age and his dementia, they could not easily rid the determined salesman from their home. He had eventually worn them down.

Obtain and Record Identification:

When they start giving you a tale of how you can help them achieve their dreams, you can hear them out, but make sure to consider that it may not be true. Ask questions. Don’t be taken in by the promise of ‘snake oil’ like products. Gather as many facts as you can. Make sure not to give them money on a promise.

Scam artists will often offer future products, like magazine subscriptions, at a drastically discounted rate. The magazine subscription never comes and you are left with no one to contact, no customer support, and no way to get a refund on your “subscription fee.”

Whenever a door to door salesman comes calling, make sure to immediately check their identification. Make sure to record any name and contact information. Also make sure to obtain the contact information for their company, including address and telephone number. You have the right to obtain this information. If the salesman is resistant or hesitant, this is a big red flag. This is not a person you want to do business with.

If you do decide you can trust this salesman, make sure to get everything in writing. Never agree to a verbal contract. It’s important to document everything and protect yourself in this deal. It’s important to never pay in cash. This way, you can easily stop the transaction if it goes south. Make sure to get a written agreement of what goods or services you will receive, the terms of these services and significantly, the agreed upon price. Make sure to include at least a three day cancellation period. This way, if you change your mind, you’re free and clear of any liabilities or charges! 

Unsolicited Solicitors:

Just last week, there was a knock on Gigi Ramirez’s door. A salesman was there claiming that he came to provide her an estimate on a home security system. Since Ramirez had not called any companies for an estimate, she was wary of his tale. He was very insistent and tried to provide her with incentives to let him into her home, including gift cards to Home Depot.

Always be cautious when talking to strangers about your home security. Ramirez knew, here, that she had not asked for estimates, and was consequently more guarded. This man could easily be a scam artist, trying to sell her a non-existent system, but he could also be a potential burglar trying to case her house. In this conversation, he could easily learn about the access points to a home, if she has a home security system currently, and if she had let him in, what valuables she had and where they were located.

Many times, a scam artist will come and go without incident, but will return later for their actual scam. Whether this scam is to burglarize your home, or sell you a product, many are caught off guard by a return visit. Seeing the same person twice can provide you with a false sense of familiarity. You may think you can trust this person, after all, you’ve seen them before and nothing happened then!

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