Slick Summer Strangers Swindle and Scam

Beware of Door-to-Door Con Artists During Warm Weather
July 16, 2013
scam alert

School may be out for the summer, but it isn’t just students who don’t have any class; the warm summer months are typically when traveling scammers move into neighborhoods and try to catch unsuspecting consumers off-guard. Better Business Bureau serving Alaska, Oregon and Western Washington and the Office of the Washington State Attorney General remind potential customers to stay on their toes and avoid making impulsive front door purchases.

Salespersons touting products and services at “incredible once-in-a-lifetime” prices and performers seeking easy heists will likely be showing up on front porches across the Pacific Northwest and in Alaska over the next few months. BBB has received reports of many different types of situations:

  • Crooked Contractors: Handymen may be unlicensed, uninsured and unqualified to perform the promised tasks, requiring large upfront deposits and then performing poor work or no work at all.
  • Immoral Installers: Home security technicians scare homeowners into lengthy contracts using home invasion horror stories but fail to disclose the terms; cancelling can be extremely difficult and result in expensive penalties.
  • Mischievous Magaziners: Students selling magazine subscriptions may not be aware that they are working for illegitimate organizations; complainants allege being severely overbilled or never receiving issues at all.
  • Shady Sob Stories: Distressed motorists plea for help after having vehicles break down, asking to use telephones or restrooms, but make quick getaways after pilfering valuables left out in the open.

Avoid fraud by following common sense rules:

  1. Always ask for identification and take the time to verify; legitimate solicitors will be patient and reasonable.
  2. Never get bullied into a purchase; if a solicitor is pushy or creating an uncomfortable atmosphere, ask him or her to leave immediately.
  3. Always get every aspect of a sale in writing; thoroughly read contracts to fully understand the transactions.

Don’t get burned this summer—by scammers or the sun. Visit BBB's News Center for the latest scam alerts and consumer news. Victims of fraud are encouraged to file complaints with Better Business Bureau; Washingtonians may also file complaints with the Attorney General's Office.

ABOUT BBB: For more than 100 years, Better Business Bureau has been helping people find businesses, brands and charities they can trust. BBB serving Alaska, Oregon and Western Washington, founded in 1918 and serving more than 9 million consumers, is one of 113 local, independent BBBs in the United States, Canada and Mexico. In 2014, people turned to BBB serving Alaska, Oregon and Western Washington more than 5 million times for BBB Business Reviews on more than 264,000 local businesses and for Charity Reports on more than 1,200 local charities, all available for free at