Influx of people at the door
As warmer weather arrives, many area residents may have knocks on their doors.
Some will be legitimate door-to-door salesmen, but some could be crooks looking for a way to get personal information or “case” the house for a later burglary.
Marion police chief Clinton Jeffrey offers some tips for avoiding rip-offs.
In Marion, door-to-door salesmen need a permit, Jeffrey said.
“Usually one permit is issued for a group of them,” Jeffrey said. “Ask them if they have a permit. Sometimes they’ve been known to show a ‘universal’ permit that doesn’t have anything to do with the city.”
Hillsboro also requires a permit for door-to-door sales. Hillsboro police check out any door-to-door salesmen they see.
“They seem to always have an out-of-state license,” Hillsboro police officer David Funk said. “It seems they bring in a van or SUV full of people, usually kids.”
The Better Business Bureau offers another tip to prevent door-to-door regrets: if they claim to be salesmen, ask for a brochure. Don’t give in to high-pressure sales tactics.
If you are talked into making a purchase, remember that federal law gives you three days “cooling off” time when you can cancel an order for an item $25 or higher.
In some scams, people have claimed they work for a utility company and need to check the home because of an emergency problem with the utility service.
Jeffrey said he thinks most Marion residents recognize city utility workers.
“If they aren’t driving a utility vehicle, that might be an indication that they might not be a utility worker,” Jeffrey said. “If you think something is weird, call us. We don’t get annoyed if they call. If you see something suspicious, give us a call and we’ll come check it out.”
Some people ask to inspect homes to “case” the home so they can come back later for a burglary, Jeffrey said.
According to the BBB, other types of door-to-door intrusions include people posing as Census workers but asking for personal information such as Social Security numbers and other financial information.
“Never give out Social Security numbers or pins, or anything like that,” Funk said. “Always ask for identification. Feel free to call 911. We can stop by. If they are uncomfortable with the person, call the police. We can always come over there and check them out or run them off if we have to.”
Keep in mind bogus “home improvement” scams often involve people claiming to offer low prices for work done from supplies “left over” from nearby jobs. It’s wise to ask for proof they are a licensed and insured contractor.
“Any kind of roofing or driveway scheme, I always consider that a scam,” Funk said. “That’s an age-old scam.”
Funk offered a simple solution to the situation of a stranger knocking on the door.
“If you don’t know who it is and don’t want to deal with them, don’t even answer the door,” Funk said.
Last modified April 4, 2019