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Better Business Bureau ®
Start With Trust®
Central Illinois
Door-to-Door Sales
April 23, 2014

BBB would like to warn consumers of potential door-to-door scams that are making their way back into the area.

A classic scam is the door-to-door magazine sales. Typically, young men or women (ranging from late teens to early twenties) will come to your door, giving a sales pitch that may have to do with raising money for a trip overseas for their school. They may also say that they are raising money for their high school or college, or they are raising money to go to college. Who wants to deny a young person their dream of college? These salespeople may even have laminated ID badges to show you, along with a sad story. They might also tell you that they are being judged on how well they do with their presentation. Finally, the catch will come… you have to purchase something, which is usually a magazine subscription. Sadly, most consumers that end up giving their money away for those subscriptions will never receive a magazine or see their money again.

Other door-to-door scams might include salespeople claiming to be from an alarm company, cable or telephone company, roofing repair, driveway paving, or home improvement.

Tips to avoid the door-to-door scam:

Don’t let them in your house. While there are legitimate salespeople that still make door-to-door visits, consumers should be very cautious by not allowing any unexpected guests into their home. If someone comes to your door that you do not know, you should ask who it is through a closed door. If it’s a solicitor and you don’t want to talk to them, simply tell them to leave. If you do open the door, don’t open it wide and don’t invite them in. They may say things like: "Can I use your phone to contact my sales manager", "Can I get a glass of water", "Can I use your bathroom" or "It's really hot out here, can we go inside and talk where it's cool?"

If you feel like you are in danger, you should immediately call the local police department.

Pay attention and listen carefully to what they say. If you think that the salesperson may be lying, ask for the name of their school, company, or association that they are representing, along with their contact information. Verify that this salesperson is actually associated with the group, and then verify that the company is legitimate by checking with the Better Business Bureau at www.bbb.org.

Ask the salesperson to give you everything in writing, including return or warranty information. Tell them that you’d like to verify everything first, then get back to them. If you don’t feel comfortable or see a neighbor being harassed by a salesperson, call the police.

Don’t be pressured into anything. Salespeople will try using high pressure sales techniques in order to get you to buy their product. Hold your position, and don’t allow them to win you over with words like “this offer is only valid for today”, or “I won’t be in this area again”. A door-to-door salesperson will try to keep you talking so long that you’ll finally wear down and say “yes.” They hope that you will just “give- in” so that you can get rid of them. The Federal Trade Commission’s Three-Day Cooling-Off Rule gives the customer three days to cancel purchases over $25 that are made in their home or at a location that is not the seller’s permanent place of business. Along with a receipt, salespeople should also include a completed cancellation form that customers can send to the company to cancel the agreement. By law, the company must give customers a refund within 10 days of receiving the cancellation notice.

What to do if you have already been scammed:

• If you happen to have the company’s address and telephone number, you should try contacting them first to cancel the subscription or services that you agreed to, and ask for a refund.

• If you paid cash for one of these door-to-door scams, there isn’t much that can be done to retrieve your money since there is no way to trace it. If you paid by check, you can try contacting your bank and cancelling the check. You should also warn the bank that a potential scammer has your check, and you might want to change the account number.

• If you paid by credit or debit card, contact the bank or credit card issuer immediately. Explain to them what happened, and you might have to cancel the card. You may also want to continue to monitor charges to your card so you can dispute any purchases you did not make.

• If the company continues to contact you and demand payment after you’ve cancelled, send them copies of the cancellation letter along with a cease and desist letter. You may have to contact an attorney, and threaten them with legal action if they continue to harass you by saying they will report you to a credit bureau.

• You can contact and file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission. www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov or call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357); TTY: 1-866-653-4261.

• You can file a complaint with the BBB by visiting our website at www.bbb.org