There are few things more terrifying than being targeted by the bad guys when you’re at home alone and vulnerable. But even if you’re smart enough to turn the bad guys away at the door, there’s no guarantee they won’t try again.
1. Ask Questions
Asking questions is your number one protection against being scammed. If someone who claims to be a security officer comes to your door and offers to inspect your alarm system, they’re likely a scammer. Legitimate businesses don’t go door-to-door—they take care of business from behind a desk. Instead of letting them in, ask questions to get more information about their company: Are you a licensed security firm? What are you inspecting exactly?
2. Ask For Identification
If someone is at your door claiming to be from a utility company or security firm, ask them to show you their identification. Sometimes scammers will provide a fake name and ID, so it’s important to verify that they are legitimate. Remember, most companies won’t send an employee to your home without calling first — if an unexpected visitor comes knocking on your door, that should be a red flag. Even during emergencies (such as a broken water pipe), local agencies typically follow up with written notice before entering your home. The best way to protect yourself is by making sure that you know who’s at your door before letting them in.
3. Get Referrals
Before a security company arrives at your door, ask neighbors if they’ve had similar salespeople come by. You can also consult with local law enforcement about recent door-to-door scams in your area. Most will tell you to always call the police before letting anyone into your home.
Never give out any personal information or wire money without knowing who you are working with and whether or not they’re legitimate. And don’t forget to follow up on any referrals you receive from colleagues or friends—you never know when someone else might be protected by a solid service agreement!
4. Befriend Neighbors
If a security company representative shows up on your doorstep, be wary of anything they tell you. A really good first step is to talk to your neighbors: Are there new security signs in their yard? If so, it’s probably not an official representative from that company, as most reputable companies do not deploy sales reps door-to-door. Unfortunately, door-to-door salespeople are often paid based on commission and sometimes use high pressure tactics in order to get inside a home. Don’t let yourself be pressured into doing something you don’t want or need! That may mean standing firm and saying no if someone is pressuring you at your front door.
5. Report Suspicious Behavior
The surest way to avoid being scammed is to recognize shady behavior when you see it. If you’re not entirely sure of a solicitor’s credentials, don’t hesitate to ask them questions—and even contact your local law enforcement agency if they don’t seem legitimate. A visit from police officers doesn’t always guarantee that someone is illegitimate, but it can give you peace of mind.
One thing to be wary of? Temptation; a scammer might offer an impressive product at a low price just so he can get inside your home. Tell him politely that you’ll call and make an appointment if you’re interested; otherwise, he has no business in your home.
6. Don’t Be Fooled By Promises of Free Gifts
Many scams require you to purchase a product to receive a free gift. Sometimes, they will even take your credit card information and never ship you anything. Other times, they will just run a string of unauthorized charges on your account.
The best way to avoid these scams is simple: ask yourself whether you’d be willing to pay extra money if you found out that you didn’t need to buy anything in order to get what was promised. If not, don’t be fooled into handing over your credit card or checking account information simply because someone promises a free gift.