BBB cautions of door-to-door sales scams


By John North

Guest columnist

DAYTON —Most of us had a salesperson come knocking on our door to try and get us to buy or invest in a product or service. They are selling anything from paving services to alarm systems to meat to magazines. Many homeowners don’t want to open their doors when they aren’t expecting someone. However, if you do decide to answer the door, be sure it’s not a scam.

Better Business Bureau offers tips to avoid door-to-door scams:

• Ask the salesperson for written materials and contact information. A legitimate salesperson will give you the information and offer to come back another time.

• Check identification, such as a photo ID and business card. Reputable sellers will be able to provide them.

• Don’t be afraid to ask questions. A good salesperson should be ready to field your questions.

• Verify the individual and the company. Make a quick phone call to the company to check if the salesperson is in fact an employee.

• Check out the salesperson’s vehicle. If it’s unmarked or from out of state, it could be a red flag.

• Consider putting a “No Soliciting” sign on your door to deter door-to-door salespeople.

• Never let strangers into your home. Call the police if they won’t leave.

• Don’t pay in full and with cash. Even if they offer a cash discount, ask if you can pay by check or with credit card so you will have proof of payment.

• Ask to see a peddler or solicitor license, a paper from your local government that says they can sell door-to-door.

• Don’t fall for high-pressure or scare tactics, such as “act fast.”

Get everything in writing. Ensure receipts or contracts include relevant information like warranties and other promises. Understand all the terms and conditions. Don’t sign it if there are any blanks.

• Be sure you know the warranty details.

• Avoid sharing personal information, especially credit card or banking information.

• Ask if they have liability and workers’ compensation insurance if it’s appropriate for the industry.

• Be wary of automatically renewing subscriptions and make sure you check the average subscription costs.

• Know your rights. The Federal Trade Commission’s Three-Day Cooling-Off Rule gives three days to cancel purchases over $25 that are made in the home or at a location that’s not the seller’s permanent place of business. 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.

If you believe you’re a victim of a door-to-door sales scam, call your local police department, report it to and/or BBB can also help. Contact the BBB Business Profiles on companies you may be considering. Visit or call 937-222-5825 or 800-776-5301.

The writer is the president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving Dayton & the Miami Valley.

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