Summer means increase in door-to-door solicitation scams

SEATTLE – Summertime is the season scams tend to find their way to your front door.

Be they aggressive magazine sellers or fake home security reps, the backstory isn’t always the same but the Better Business Bureau says that often times, the sales people are legitimate.

Q13 News spoke to the BBB, which shared what you need to know to have a safe summer.

“I think she was embarrassed a little bit,” one woman told Q13 News. She said her mother was too embarrassed to publicly identify herself.

She complained to the BBB after her elderly mother was duped into signing up for home security services she didn’t need.

“Your door is half open this time of year, people are going to knock on it, you’re more than likely to answer it this time of year and they know that,” she said.

She told the BBB the solicitors used high-pressure tactics and pretended to be with a well-known security company.

“They said, ‘Hey, we’re here to upgrade your ADT system,'” she explained. “They didn’t actually say they were with ADT, but they said they were here to upgrade your ADT system.”

ATD told Q13 News the solicitors were actually working for a competing company, and were posing as ADT employees.

“The opportunistic attack on elderly people, I hate that part,” said the victim’s daughter.

Her family’s case isn’t the only one, ADT said several customers around Puget Sound have also been duped.

The fake agents would tell homeowners that ADT had gone out of business – or was now affiliated with the new security company.

Some homeowners ended up signing long-term contracts and in some cases the service was even more expensive.

“Most of the times, we find out these solicitors are legit,” said Chris Lawler of the Lakewood police.

His department said they also responded to recent complaints about aggressive sales people.

While door-to-door sales are legal with a permit in Lakewood, Lawler reminds people they have options at their doorstep.

“Call the company, go verify who they are and if you still want to do business, that’s great,” he said. “But you also have the option of not answering the door.”

Jimmy Liu said his neighbor’s security camera caught an image of a man at his North Seattle doorbell.

Liu called police after he said the group of young people selling magazines subscriptions became aggressive and verbally abusive when he asked them to leave.

“He did not have a name tag at all or a card, business card or anything,” said Liu. “Which makes me believe it’s fake.”

Bottom line, the BBB said homeowners should review deals in writing before signing anything. It also said while many door-to-door salespeople are legitimate, homeowners should think twice about conducting transactions at home.

“It’s a risky move when you want to make a transaction, wheel-and-deal with someone that comes to the door,” said BBB’s David Quinlan.

The BBB said homeowners should follow several tips when dealing with door-to-door sales people.

Research the company and ask the sales person for identification, avoid high pressure situations and don’t be afraid to close your door were some suggestions.

The BBB also said The Federal Trade Commission’s "cooling-off" rule gives buyers three days to cancel any purchases made over $25 at their front door.