Tips to avoid door-to-door scammers
The New York Department of State’s Division of Consumer Protection warned the public on Tuesday about an anticipated uptick in door-to-door scammers taking advantage of honest consumers this summer.
It can be difficult to tell whether unexpected visitors at your doorstep are legitimate businesspeople, and door-to-door frauds continue to be one of the most common scams against older adults, according to Secretary of State Robert Rodriguez.
“Many businesses rely on door-to-door sales, but it can be hard to know if the next time the doorbell rings it is a legitimate salesperson or a scammer,” Rodriguez said. “To help you better understand how you can protect yourself, our Division of Consumer Protection is providing practical tips to help you identify a potential door-to-door scammer and avoid being cheated out of your hard-earned money.”
As provided by Department of State, here are some common door-to-door scams:
Fake Solar Energy Providers: These imposters try to take advantage of consumers that are looking for sustainable power to fuel their homes and try to convince you to sign “enrollment forms” or “applications” with the attempt to steal personal information or perpetuate other fraudulent activities.
Fake Utility Representatives: Fraudsters may pose as utility workers and say there’s a utility emergency they need to inspect. Many burglars work in pairs, as one gains your attention, the other sneaks into your home and steals. Ignore any “utility representative” that requests access to your home without scheduling with you in advance. Utility companies generally send a letter in advance to alert residents if they need access to their home or building.
Home Improvement Scammers: Most good contractors are too busy to seek business at your front door. Be wary of contractors that knock on your door offering repairs or home improvement projects at a “bargain price” or because they have extra supplies left over from another project in your neighborhood. These scammers may be quick to disappear if the homeowner provides any type of payment upfront.
Asphalt Paving Scam: Be wary of paving contractors who say they just happened to be in the neighborhood or have asphalt left over from another job. Reputable asphalt contractors know with great accuracy how much material they need to finish a job and don’t usually have any left over. These scammers may offer to pave your driveway for a deal that seems too good to be true, then once the work is finished, try to charge a higher price than originally quoted. The materials and workmanship are often very low quality leaving the homeowner with a failing or crumbling driveway, but by then, the scammer is long gone. Asphalt scammers may also begin to pave over or tear up your old driveway without your knowledge or permission, then demand a high payment. If that happens, call the police immediately.
Fake Home Security Reps: According to the Federal Trade Commission, some fraudsters may come to your home to make fake home security offers. You’ll know it’s a scam if they claim that there have been several robberies in your neighborhood and they’re offering free security inspections. It’s also a sign of a scam if they say that they are there to upgrade or replace your existing security system or claim that your security company has gone out of business.
The Department of State reminds consumers that legitimate businesspeople will present photo identification immediately, and will not use high-pressure sales tactics that demand immediate payment.
Good businesspeople will also let customers take their time to do research and offer written material that explains a clear-cut cancellation policy.
Under New York State law, consumers have a right to opt out of a door-to-door sales contract for three business days after the agreement or signing. Federal law allows three business days to cancel and get a full refund on most purchases of $25 or more that are made in your home.
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