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Tips for avoiding door-to-door scams

Evanston police say they’ve received numerous complaints about door-to-door salespeople in recent weeks.

The department’s senior crime prevention specialist, Amanda Jones, offers several tips about how to avoid problems related to solicitors:

  • Peddlers must have a City of Evanston license: Ask them to hold it up so you can see it without opening the door. The license is multi-colored and includes a photo and must be worn or displayed on demand. If the salesperson refuses, notify the police and the City Collectors which issues Peddler’s Licenses.
  • Licensed peddlers can only come to your door between the hours of 8 a.m. and 9 p.m.
  • People you don’t know who pose as neighbors in need are ALWAYS fakes. Local scams have included the “contractor-constructor worker” whose truck has broken down or run out of gas, the guy who said he needed cab fare as his wife was in labor at a local hospital, the alleged “parent” who needs money for medicine for his sick child.
  • Door-to-door salespeople offering deals on home security systems generally don’t represent the alarm company directly but sell systems through authorized dealerships. If you want an alarm system, get estimates from several companies based on the layout of your home and security needs. Ask hard questions about how alarm calls are monitored and who is responsible for repairs before you sign a contract for installation and monitoring. Don’t give door-to-door salespeople your telephone number.

There are a number of door-to-door scammers; usually young people selling magazines or newspaper subscriptions. On the street it’s usually candy sales to “support” a sports team NOT located in Evanston. Remember to watch for these clues.

  • When you ask them for literature about their cause, they have nothing to give you, no business cards and no brochures. They only have one “order form” and their “causes” are never in Evanston.
  • The forms they carry don’t match the product they are selling. The ones I saw said Chicago Sun Times when the scammer said she was selling the Tribune.
  • They pressure you to give cash although, trust me; you’ll also get taken if you give a check or credit card.
  • They seem unsure or confused about their product or cause. I once got one who said her school was raising money for a trip to Versailles, Paris.
  • They claim to live nearby or be a neighbor but you’ve never seen them before.
  • License or no license, NEVER let peddlers in your home regardless of the excuse. Recent attempts included requests for a glass of water or a need to use the bathroom. If you feel you MUST speak with them, do so without unlocking or opening your door. Several years ago, a citizen said no to the man selling Bibles through her unlocked screen door and went back to her kitchen. She heard a noise and found the Bible “salesman” in her living room, uninvited. Get or make a NO SOLICITING sign and put it on your door. It’s not foolproof but it helps a little.

For more information contact Amanda Jones at 847-866-5011 or ajones@cityofevanston.org.

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