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How to Identify Door to Door Scams

Updated on August 24, 2017

Tips For Recognizing Con Artists At Your Door

You might not realize that you need to know how to identify door to door scams until you understand how easy it can be to fall for one. Con artists use special techniques that they've developed by huge amounts of trial and error. They even use well-known psychological effects to get you to act the way they want you to act.

People get taken for a ride every day. Some merely lose the amount of money they wasted on the scam, but others end up dealing with much more serious consequences, such as stolen identities.

Even if you're convinced that a door-to-door sales scam could never happen to you, it's not a bad idea to know what to look for.

What Are Your Experiences With Door-to-Door Sales? - Vote In This Poll!

Have You Experienced Salespeople At Your Door?

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A Reader's Personal Scam Tale

And How To Respond

Here is MoroninMD's tale:

I had an orange magic sales man come to my door today. He was a young kid probably in his early twenties who could talk fast enough to put my head in circles. He showed me how great his product was and what it could do against all surfaces. After five or so minutes, I let him in to show how it could get up carpet stains and he tried to get me to buy two gallons of this stuff for like $120. I flat out said that it wasn't my place and I had no money and he left very easily.

However, since then, I have been thinking non-stop about who this kid could have been and just how stupid it was to let him in. It was rare for me to see these type of sellers and now I'm worried that he might have been scouting for a house to rob or something (call me paranoid). The worst part was I asked for a number or business card to get back to him and he didn't have either. He searched the bottle he was holding (claimed it was new but it was beat up pretty bad) and found a website. I tried the website and it doesn't exist.

What do I do from here? This is pretty obviously a scam but I'm worried about further repercussions. Should I contact the police or an I over-reaching?

Response:

That's definitely scary, and good thing you didn't buy! In my experience, when I called the police, they said that unfortunately they couldn't do anything because no crime had been actually committed. It never hurts to call them, though, especially if it will make you feel safer. Other steps you can take are talking to your neighbors and homeowner's association, if you have one, and just staying vigilant. Hope this helps!

Image by gkdavie on Flickr.

Door-to-Door Scams in the News - Watch and Learn!

What To Do If You Think You've Been Scammed - Check Out the BBB

This great website will help point you to the next steps to take against the offending organization.

Don't forget to also contact your local homeowner's association, landlord, police, and even the media, if you want to help others from being wronged.

Food For Thought

 

A Scam? Or Not a Scam? - What Do You Think?

There are always two sides to a story. Let us know whether you think door-to-door sales are okay under certain circumstances, and why you think so.

Are Door to Door Sales Okay? When and Why?

Do You Have a Door-to-Door Sales Story to Tell? - Share It Here!

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    • profile image

      UKBusinesses 4 years ago

      This is an excellent lens, I worry about older members of my family and this sort of thing. Will definitely be spreading the word.

    • Lady Lorelei profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 4 years ago from Canada

      I hate when people come to the door looking for donations because it really is difficult to tell who is real and who is not.

    • rasnasah profile image

      rasnasah 4 years ago

      very informative ..Great

    • bushaex profile image

      Stephen Bush 4 years ago from Ohio

      I think of politicians as door-to-door salespeople as well with their own particular scams!

    • tonybonura profile image

      Tony Bonura 5 years ago from Tickfaw, Louisiana

      No I don't because as I said in the survey above, I tell all of them No.

      TonyB

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I am currently a door-to-door fundraiser for a downtrodden woman who is a friend and neighbor. I explain to people that I am trying to help her keep her pets because she cannot afford the expense. So, I ask for dog or cat food. I also explain that I help pay her utility bills and if the people can help with a check written to one of the utility companies that would be nice. I don't ever ask for cash but sometimes I receive it. People still think I am running a scam. They explain that I could change the amount on the check or do something illegal with their routing number Sometimes I get more than enough checks and the excess goes to help other people having trouble meeting their bill obligations. I am not a charity. I am just a friend choosing not to sit around but to actively help this friend of mine. Most people I talk to aren't very enthused with me knocking on their door but the few that help I'm thankful for, it makes what I'm doing seem worthwhile and enjoyable. Sometimes it's scary out there. Some do-gooders from the neighborhood are upset that I knocked on their parents' door and demand that I leave the neighborhood. Some call the cops and the cops come and tell me to scram. Some seem downright perturbed as if a one minute interruption oin their life is killing them. Some don't even care and just dig in their pocket for a few dollars without looking even at my literature. Some want to get involved and help out more. Some want to help but can't. The bulk are not even home (or don't come to the door). I love all people. Some frighten me and some make my day. I just wish I didn't have to do this. There's gotta be a better way.

    • profile image

      robertclarke 5 years ago

      Each door-to-door sales person is different. In every business there is always going to be a bad apple that gives everybody else a bad name and the same applies in this career choice. However, there are many good, honest and polite people out there that are trying to make a living and want to genuinely help people and they certainly outnumber the bad people. My advice is to use your own judgement. Never commit to anything if you feel under pressure - this could be if someone says they are only in the area once, its now or never etc. Always check their ID and remember if you say to someone to leave your house, they legally have to oblige.

    • KathyBatesel profile image

      KathyBatesel 5 years ago

      I've had the magazine sellers, the orange cleaning products come to my door, painters and landscapers (some of the tree trimmers are legit, at least!) along with those trucks that offer great prices on meat cuts (which have usually been stolen from a distributor and drove up costs for consumers everywhere.) I agree completely with #10 on your list. A lot of young people don't realize they're participating in scams when they agree to work for these unscrupulous companies.

    • profile image

      fullofshoes 5 years ago

      Have I told you about my 1985 Rainbow vacuum cleaner? Lesson of a lifetime. I feel silly even saying so! This is a wonderful lens Emma.

    • shandigp profile image

      shandigp 5 years ago

      @Paul Ward: That's actually how most roofers work. They either are working on someone else's house and visually inspect nearby homes for possible leads or they drive around neighborhoods that have had bad storms in the last year doing visual inspections. If they offer to do a free inspection it's probably fine. Your insurance company will do a second inspection to verify the roof needs replacing. If it doesn't they won't pay for it, plain and simple, but they will if it has damage. I have two friends who work for two different roofing companies, and one of those friends has worked for 3 different roofing companies over his career. One of those friends I would trust my life with; the other I'd trust my dog with

    • shandigp profile image

      shandigp 5 years ago

      Roof salesmen in the U.S. are primarily door-to-door sellers, as are certain other industry salepeople. Stay safe, but plenty of people are legit, so don't judge them. Don't let them inside, maybe, and stay wary, but don't jump to conclusions.

    • Mistl profile image

      Mistl 5 years ago

      It is so sad that we have to be this paranoid about people knocking on our doors, but I guess such are the times. I had a fire inspector knock on my door a couple of weeks ago. He asked for entry into my apartment so he could check out the firealarms and whether I had a fire extinguisher. After he had left I felt it was really weird that I hadn't been notified by my landlord and I started to really worry, whether he had been scouting my home. He returned an hour later with the fire extinguisher I had been missing, but hmmm you never know. Thanks for putting together this lens, unfortunately this is something we all need to be aware of.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I am a door to door sales man I have been doing it for a while. Unfortunately there are a lot of con artists that give us a bad name. Some of the things I have read on here that they say con artists do are things I do but never have i scammed somebody. I have met and reported con artists that were even proud of what they did and the things you want to really watch out for is I.D. representation, and how long the company has been around watch for those and you will more than likely be fine. I invite any of you who have questions about things email me this is my personal email I have been around the block a bit and I can tell you most of what you need to know. jordanhpoulsen@gmail.com just please don't message me just to annoy me. That is all I ask, but I do like to help.

    • Paul Ward profile image

      Paul 5 years ago from Liverpool, England

      "Doing a bit of work down the road and I noticed you had a few roof tiles lose. They could come down next time it';s windy and kill someone". One of the classics.

      Police in most countries won't help - if you can, as the author said, tell ny neighbourhood group (Neighbourhood Watch in England), Can also be worth warning local clergy.

    • LouisaDembul profile image

      LouisaDembul 5 years ago

      I let in a guy selling vacuum cleaners, and he wouldn't leave until I lost my temper! I exploded when he poured dirt on our sofa and told my husband to clean it up!

    • emmaklarkins profile image
      Author

      emmaklarkins 5 years ago

      @julieannbrady: I'm glad to spread the word! You can never be too careful.

    • profile image

      julieannbrady 5 years ago

      OMG! This is such an important warning and good advice for the elderly who are home most of the time and too often, preyed upon by door-to-door scammers. Just yesterday I had my door bell rung! ;) It was the home security people telling me that there had been break-ins in my zip code. And that they were doing courtesy warnings, door-to-door. Hmmm, I thought. "Not in my neighborhood?" I asked ... "No" she said. Well, I'm putting a couple of bullets into my gun. Thanks for dropping by.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      I have a tendency to talk and act very slowly when dealing with salesmen, it definitely derails their sales techniques. However you have to be careful not to agree by complacency. But a few specific rules can help prevent any scams. If I answer the door to a salesman all of our conversation will take place outside of the front door (clearly my dog would like to eat him). Secondly, I never make a decision about money on my own (my wife must be informed). Third, I'm always suitably unimpressed by any 'magic' (I.e. today I sent an Advantage Wonder cleaner salesman on his way because I knew more about the limitations of organic cleaners than he did, and I wonder who tells them it's safe to ingest).

    • emmaklarkins profile image
      Author

      emmaklarkins 6 years ago

      @LaraineRoses: That's terrible! It's definitely people like that who give door-to-door sales a bad name.

    • emmaklarkins profile image
      Author

      emmaklarkins 6 years ago

      @TolovajWordsmith: I second that! Higher returns and usually more effective!

    • LaraineRoses profile image

      Laraine Sims 6 years ago from Lake Country, B.C.

      Mum and dad had just had their new vacumn about 6 months. Another salesman came to the door and told them that their old one (a Rainbow) might electrocute them as it filtered the dust through water. Mum and dad fell for it .. how I don't know as they were not stupid. Just a fast talker that pretended to be their best friend. Of course, he took the Rainbow off their hands too. People who prey on the elderly are not nice!

    • TolovajWordsmith profile image

      Tolovaj Publishing House 6 years ago from Ljubljana

      We tried door-to-door sale with our books and it was not successful. Web is better place!

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      be careful of door to door salemen! Read here to educate yourself and the ones you love. Door to door scams education

    • emmaklarkins profile image
      Author

      emmaklarkins 6 years ago

      @franstan lm: Thank you!

    • franstan lm profile image

      franstan lm 6 years ago

      Blessed by a visiting Squid Angel

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      @anonymous: yes stay the hell away from this crazy lying,manipulative, thieving bitch.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Sabrina Rae Rhoads has been convicted 5 times for Felony Idendification Theft, this is a matter of public record at the Lane County Courthouse in Eugene Oregon. Sabrina Rhoads, convicted felon, is now selling vacuum cleaners door to door. 1st. she gains your trust then the next thing you know usually months later your identity and other personal information has been stolen and your out hundreds if not thousands of dollars. So Beware.

    • emmaklarkins profile image
      Author

      emmaklarkins 6 years ago

      @BeyondRoses: Too bad we have to worry so much about these kinds of things nowadays!

    • profile image

      BeyondRoses 6 years ago

      When I was a child, we lived about 10 miles outside of town. My Mom bought a number of things from door-to-door ... a vacumn cleaner, and several large sets of encyclopedias. Each one had 20 to 30 volumes. We had a Fuller brush man, a milkman, and a drycleaning man! There were some big time scammers back then, but some were a handy service. When I was a teen Mom bought two lovely watches on a chain. Neither one ever seemed to run, but the guy gave me a job tip, where I worked till I married.

      Today, I let no one in, and listen to no one that comes door-to-door. Have had some bad experience with one of the worse kind, the traveling sales crews.

    • emmaklarkins profile image
      Author

      emmaklarkins 6 years ago

      @anonymous: Wow. It looks like a great resource! Thanks for taking the time to share your story, I'm sure it will save people from danger and heartbreak.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      I was a door-to-door salesman. It is not the correct path to head down when looking for success. Dangerous is the only word I can use to describe the industry. http://www.amazon.com/Adventure-Travel-Rock-N-Roll...

    • greetingcardsinfo profile image

      greetingcardsinfo 6 years ago

      Great lens

    • emmaklarkins profile image
      Author

      emmaklarkins 6 years ago

      @UKGhostwriter: Thanks! Glad you found something useful!

    • UKGhostwriter profile image

      UKGhostwriter 6 years ago

      Excellent lens! - well done

    • jackieb99 profile image

      jackieb99 6 years ago

      No story to tell, but thanks for the tips!

    • emmaklarkins profile image
      Author

      emmaklarkins 6 years ago

      @anonymous: That's definitely scary, and good thing you didn't buy! In my experience, when I called the police, they said that unfortunately they couldn't do anything because no crime had been actually committed. It never hurts to call them, though, especially if it will make you feel safer. Other steps you can take are talking to your neighbors and homeowner's association, if you have one, and just staying vigilant. Hope this helps!

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      I had an orange magic sales man come to my door today. He was a young kid probably in his early twenties who could talk fast enough to put my head in circles. He showed me how great his product was and what it could do against all surfaces. After five or so minutes, I let him in to show how it could get up carpet stains and he tried to get me to buy two gallons of this stuff for like $120. I flat out said that it wasn't my place and I had no money and he left very easily. However, since then, I have been thinking non-stop about who this kid could have been and just how stupid it was to let him in. It was rare for me to see these type of sellers and now I'm worried that he might have been scouting for a house to rob or something (call me paranoid). The worst part was I asked for a number or business card to get back to him and he didn't have either. He searched the bottle he was holding (claimed it was new but it was beat up pretty bad) and found a website. I tried the website and it doesn't exist. What do I do from here? This is pretty obviously a scam but I'm worried about further repercussions. Should I contact the police or an I over-reaching?

    • profile image

      Pete Schultz 6 years ago

      I've tried to tell sales people that I don't want to talk to them, or let them in, but some have succeeded, truly the motivated I guess....anyway, I'm pleased to say I've never bought anything, and have no plans to in the future.

    • stephenteacher profile image

      Stephen Carr 6 years ago from Corona, CA

      AT&T sent 2 people by on different days, claiming we had asked for an upgrade. NOT! Second person I told them if ATT sends one more, we are canceling them. They were really pushing that uverse thing.

    • ICanCook profile image

      ICanCook 6 years ago

      I was sitting in my bedroom in my comfy chair last week, chilling out, Squidooing or some such thing when someone persistently rang my doorbell. I responded and tried to explain that this was a a very bad time but he insisted on getting in what he had to say. I firmly shut the door on him. Was I rude? I felt no remorse.

    • WebIsFun profile image

      WebIsFun 6 years ago

      Well, as a kid I sold girl scout cookies door-to-door ... boy it was hard. I see they got to shopping plazas now -- MUCH easier! :)

    • ajgodinho profile image

      Anthony Godinho 6 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      I've experienced door-to-door sales and have had a positive experience with them, but that was years back. I'd be quite leery with that sort of marketing now. I haven't seen one in years now, but maybe most of them have moved to the online world. But I'm sure they are still out there, so this is a great lens to educate people who may be experiencing this sort of marketing. Great job! **Blessed by a Squid-Angel**

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      It is NOT OK to sell door to door anymore, unless these people have an appointment with you and you are expecting them. I have had TWO fraudulent instances within two weeks of each other, and am now frankly frightened for my safety. I just moved to a suburban area, nice enough, but three "magazine salespeople" came to my door on two separate occasions. Both times, they (eventually) asked to come inside my home. The first time, I was caught off-guard when the kid asked to use my bathroom, after I declined his mag subscriptions. He was in there for a long time, and I could HEAR him opening and closing my closet and vanity doors. And you can hear when people "do their business" in this particular bathroom; this guy did NOT. He was clearly in search of meds or anything of value. I didn't have much in there worth the aggravation, so I got the kid out of the house, locked the door, and then checked the bathroom. Seriously, this is DANGEROUS GROUND.

      These "kids" say they are trying to raise money for college, charity, or trips. They attempt to be funny and talkative--in the process, they are really trying to get information out of you with the questions they ask (personal info, maybe about when you are home, if your husband is home during the day, what you do for a living, etc.). They get you to talk about yourself; put you on a pedestal and let you have the spotlight. In the meantime, they are making a mental file on you. They get your name and address, if you let them. They pry on peopleâs wanting not to be rude, and they dig for information, all while hiding it behind clever, funny stories and anecdotes. Best defense is not to answer the door unless you know who is ringing. Seriously. Please learn from my mistake. The next time, I am taking their pictures through the front window and reporting them. I have researched this online, and there are many, many door-to-door scams out there, where people are getting their identities stolen, their bank account or credit card info used, personal household items stolen, and worse, people have been raped and murdered. Tell everyone you know this story. Donât let it happen to you.

    • SueM11 profile image

      Sue Mah 6 years ago from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

      I have had door to door sales person say I have won a prize and would like to give it to me. I tell them to leave it at the front gate and I will pick it up later. They often insist on bringing it in and reassure me they are genuine. When I refuse to budge they leave without leaving the free gift behind!

    • The-Java-Gal profile image

      The-Java-Gal 6 years ago

      This subject deserves discussion. Working with the BBB for a couple of years, I know a lot of the current scam stories. All I can say, we ultimately have the responsibility of being the savvy consumer. If sales people are pushy, and need a decision on the spot, just say no. Legitimate sales professionals will give you the time you need to make a decision. And a final word of advice, you can simply say, "Give me your card, I always check every business out with the BBB before I do business with that company." Great lens - thanks for sharing.

    • profile image

      jgelien 6 years ago

      I live in such a rural area that I don't get door-to-door salesmen but I have elderly neighbors that were targeted by a telephone sales scammer.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Shy Enterprises (Ann Arbor, MI), Kirby vacuum sales - Where is the media coverage?

      I agree with the person that had the experience with Shy Enterprises. They are pushy, liars, and very rude sales people.

      I have seen tons of door-to-door salesman in my neighborhood this year. When they come to my door, I get their info and chase them off. Then I check these companies out on the Internet. I just had Shy Enterprises and Direct Energy at my door step. Not the only companies using our children to peddle their products. In my area, I have only seen young adults peddling these companies products. Is this a nationwide epidemic? Is this the new way our kids are being victimized simply because they turned 18? Is this only happening in my area or around the country?

      Decent companies do not sell door-to-door. Kirby only sells door-to-door. Hmmm. If you check out Kirby there are all kinds of nationwide reviews on the distributors cheating the consumer and employees in all kinds of ways. Where are the investigative reporters? Kirby is a large company and expanding internationally. Why isn't this top in the headlines of newspapers? Am I the only one seeing this going on in my area?

      Shy Enterprises is part of Kirby vacuums. Nationwide issues with Kirby distributors recruiting young adults to do dirty work and many unhappy customers. Most of all the Kirby distributors have bad ratings and are not accredited with the BBB. What is happening here?

      We teach our kids to watch out for bad people. We monitor sex offender lists to further protect our kids. Then we send them out in the world to get a job and be independent. As parents, these companies know there are limits in what a parent can do to protect the kids after 18 years of age.

      Reporting to authorities is one way to stop this. More needs to be done. Parents need to organize pickets against these companies and put them out of business. Everyone should be upset with this newest scam. MADD is out there. Where is the organization to bring this to the public's attention. Am I really the only one seeing this????????

    • CCGAL profile image

      CCGAL 6 years ago

      I guess I said everything I needed to say in the duel, so I'll just say ***angel blessings*** and fly away.

    • emmaklarkins profile image
      Author

      emmaklarkins 6 years ago

      Thank you WeddingZazzle! And glad everyone liked the info!

    • VarietyWriter2 profile image

      VarietyWriter2 6 years ago

      Nicely done, very informative, good tips. Blessed by a SquidAngel :)

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      Thanks so much for the info - very nice job on the door-to-door scams! It makes me wonder about some of the kids and young adults that have come to my own home.

    • profile image

      JHFSEO 7 years ago

      Great resource, Emma, for those who HAVE to open their doors to a door-to-door salesman. I kinda wish they'd go back to the 1950s where they belong. I like Joshua's advice from War Games - "The only winning move is not to play".

    • PastorKay profile image

      Pastor Kay 7 years ago

      How to Identify a Door-to-Door Sales Scam? He knocks on your door, and he's over age 10.

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      RE: How to Identify a Door-to-Door Sales Scam.

      For the hard cold reality of over 300 high profile felony crimes and 86 documented deaths in the door-to-door sales industry please review our websites:

      Sincerely,

      Phil Ellenbecker

      Director

      Dedicated Memorial Parents Group

      www.travelingsalescrews.info

      www.dedicatedmemorial.org

    • Shades-of-truth profile image

      Emily Tack 7 years ago from USA

      Very helpful, and unfortunately, a lot of us have been taken! 5*s here!

    • profile image

      roadroamer 7 years ago

      No door to door scams here. We don't have that many solicitors luckily. Thanks for sharing this.

    • oztoo lm profile image

      oztoo lm 7 years ago

      No I haven't but very worthwhile advice here.

    • LisaMarieGabriel profile image

      Lisa Marie Gabriel 7 years ago from United Kingdom

      No, although someone I thought was a friend perpetrated a fraud with cheques he stole from a drawer but that's another story. I think this a a very useful lens, so giving it 5!