The door-to-door sales industry gets a bad rap. Reports abound of con artists stealing from seniors and troubled teens selling fake magazine subscriptions. But with the proliferation of the Do Not Call List, home knockers aren’t going anywhere. In fact, in the security industry, door-to-door sales are one of the most effective ways to market home alarm systems to homeowners.
We at SafeWise have compiled a list of some basic tips to help you make sure a door-to-door salesperson is legitimate before you trust them.
1. Card them
If someone comes to your door claiming they’re selling alarm systems with a security company, ask to see ID. A legitimate security company is not going to send out their employees without credentials. Most door-to-door salespeople will already have an ID hanging off their lanyard or belt loop. If they don’t have ID, close the door — you could very well be dealing with a scammer.
2. Request back-up
Ask for documents about the security services. A prepared salesperson should come armed with basic marketing material, like a flyer or brochure. The Better Business Bureau (BBB) advises that you get everything in writing before committing to a service agreement, like approximate start/end dates, contract details, and guarantees of no hidden fees.
3. Do your research
You don’t need to be a detective to verify a company’s legitimacy. Call corporate headquarters of the company the salesperson is representing, and use their ID number to verify their authenticity. Some alarm companies can even verify salespeople through their website now.
4. Be leery of maintenance visits
If a salesperson comes to your door unannounced, claiming they need to upgrade or make repairs on your security system, do not let them inside. Unless you’ve personally called and asked for a technician or the security company called and scheduled a technician visit, no one claiming to be with your security company should enter your home.
5. Expect honesty
A reliable security company does not condone the use of aggressive sales tactics. Good security sales reps know they are talking to you about one of the most intimate aspects of your life: your home protection. They will be open and honest and make you feel comfortable. Using aggressive means — like pressuring you to buy now or refusing your repeated “no” — is a red flag.
6. Know your rights
State and city solicitation laws vary widely regarding everything from permits to hour restrictions. Familiarize yourself with your municipality rules regarding door-to-door sales. Even if you’re not sure of local laws, take comfort in this: if you get buyers’ remorse after a shady sale was made at your home, you have three days to cancel. It’s called the Federal Trade Commission’s “Cooling-Off Rule” and it was made to protect consumers who feel violated.
Bogus door-to-door salespeople are rare, says the BBB, so there’s no need to live in fear every time a stranger steps on your welcome mat. By informing yourself of con artist’s tactics, you can verify the authenticity of a door-to-door salesperson moments after they knock on your door.