Sheriff Mike Moore announces that his agency has received some reports of suspicious persons posing as a salesperson for a Kirby Vacuum cleaning company and a local pizza hut. The following link is a local news broadcast of a door to door trend involving thieves pretending to be salespeople in the area.
Sheriff Moore would like to warn citizens that with all the attention paid to email scams, computer viruses and other electronic methods of committing fraud, it’s easy to forget that a lot of scams are decidedly low-tech in their approach. Door-to-door scams are very common and have been reported several times in Northwest Arkansas and Southwest Missouri over the past few years. The usual targets are people who live alone, especially the elderly.
There are a number of variations to how the scam occurs; which will involve one or two people. When two people knock on the door and claim to be from a company, they will ask for access to the home while they perform some task – demonstration of the product is one example. While one crook distracts the homeowner, the other steals cash, jewelry and other valuables.
Another version involves criminals claiming to work for a company. They offer a sales pitch for a free item that may be just a ploy to case the house for a future break-in.
Other scams involve only one crook showing up on your doorstep while another waits outside. They offer products or services, take the victim’s down payment and never return.
The first rule in preventing this type of fraud is to never let anyone into your house without verifying, beyond doubt, who they are and why they need to come in.
If someone comes to your door, claims to represent a company and asks to enter your house, the first thing you must do is ask for identification. If they’re legitimate, they’ll have an ID card and will be happy to show it to you. Once they’ve shown you their ID, it is still a good idea to double-check. Politely tell the person on your doorstep to wait a moment, lock the door, and call the company. Ask if they have workers in your neighborhood selling products or other services and if anyone should be asking to gain entry to your house. If the story checks out, you can be confident that they are who they claim to be.
The behavior of the person on your doorstep can also be an indicator of trouble. If they run when you ask for ID, or become belligerent, that is a warning sign. Lock your door, call your local law enforcement agency, and provide as much information as you can. A real salesman will understand your concern and should not mind waiting a couple minutes.
Even armed with knowledge, none of us is immune to being scammed. What should you do if you realize you’ve already let criminals into your house?
First, do not let them know you’re onto them. A cornered crook can be dangerous. Remain calm, try to remember as many details as you can, and wait until they are gone to lock the door and call the police. Your safety is far more important than any cash or objects the thieves might get away with.
Make sure to talk to your family, friends and neighbors about this type of crime, and always stay vigilant.