Scam Alert

The Columbia County Sheriff’s Office received an email report from a citizen about a suspicious incident that occurred on Saturday.   The incident involved a teen coming to the door selling magazines for a “school trip”.  Wisely, the citizen contacted the school this morning and learned they had no such fundraiser going on. 

The Sheriff’s Office encourages citizens to report incidents such as these so deputies can focus their efforts on identifying and stopping these individuals.

The Better Business Bureau provided the following information from their website;

A classic scam is the door-to-door magazine sales. Typically, young men or women (ranging from late teens to early twenties) will come to your door, giving a sales pitch that may have to do with raising money for a trip overseas for their school. They may also say that they are raising money for their high school or college, or they are raising money to go to college. Who wants to deny a young person their dream of college? These salespeople may even have laminated ID badges to show you, along with a sad story. They might also tell you that they are being judged on how well they do with their presentation. Finally, the catch will come… you have to purchase something, which is usually a magazine subscription. Sadly, most consumers that end up giving their money away for those subscriptions will never receive a magazine or see their money again.

Other door-to-door scams might include salespeople claiming to be from an alarm company, cable or telephone company, roofing repair, driveway paving, or home improvement.

Tips to avoid the door-to-door scam:

Don’t let them in your house. While there are legitimate salespeople that still make door-to-door visits, consumers should be very cautious by not allowing any unexpected guests into their home. If someone comes to your door that you do not know, you should ask who it is through a closed door. If it’s a solicitor and you don’t want to talk to them, simply tell them to leave. If you do open the door, don’t open it wide and don’t invite them in. They may say things like: “Can I use your phone to contact my sales manager”, “Can I get a glass of water”, “Can I use your bathroom” or “It’s really hot out here, can we go inside and talk where it’s cool?”

If you feel like you are in danger, you should immediately call your local law enforcement.

Pay attention and listen carefully to what they say. If you think that the salesperson may be lying, ask for the name of their school, company, or association that they are representing, along with their contact information. Verify that this salesperson is actually associated with the group, and then verify that the company is legitimate by checking with the Better Business Bureau at www.bbb.org or by contacting Consumer Protection.

Ask the salesperson to give you everything in writing, including return or warranty information. Tell them that you’d like to verify everything first, then get back to them. If you don’t feel comfortable or see a neighbor being harassed by a salesperson, call law enforcement.

Don’t be pressured into anything. Salespeople will try using high pressure sales techniques in order to get you to buy their product. Hold your position, and don’t allow them to win you over with words like “this offer is only valid for today”, or “I won’t be in this area again”. A door-to-door salesperson will try to keep you talking so long that you’ll finally wear down and say “yes.” They hope that you will just “give- in” so that you can get rid of them. The Federal Trade Commission’s Three-Day Cooling-Off Rule gives the customer three days to cancel purchases over $25 that are made in their home or at a location that is not the seller’s permanent place of business. Along with a receipt, 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.