Safety experts give tips for spotting door-to-door scammers
TRI-CITIES, Wash. — Police said scammers tricked a couple outside a Kennewick grocery story on Saturday.
They warn criminals are getting smarter about what they need to stay to win you over, especially in person.
Kennewick crime prevention specialist Michael Blatman said the Tri-Cities sees an influx of door-to-door salespeople this time of year.
He said this also means more door-to-door scammers.
Blatman said you should be suspicious of any type of emotional plea or sad story when someone's trying to sell you something.
"It's a story that they weave and they try to make it as believable as they possibly can," Blatman said.
A Kennewick couple learned this the hard way over the weekend, paying nearly $200 to a man saying he could fix a dent on their truck.
Two days later they say the dent is still there.
Tyler Russell with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) said the bureau is aware of the dent-repair scam, adding it's just one of many scams they hear about daily.
“There’s the base scams you hear about but there are so many different variations out there," Russell said. "Scammers are becoming very creative, so make sure to protect yourself, we can't stress that enough. Protect your information [and] your money."
If someone comes to your door selling something, both experts said you should ask to see their identification and solicitor's license first thing.
Anyone who doesn't have them might be up to no good.
"Sometimes they'll go like, 'Oh yeah, my boss has it,' or 'We have a state permit'," said Blatman. "You have to have that state permit, and you have to have that business license, but you also as an individual are required to have that door-to-door solicitors license in the city of Kennewick."
Blatman said a solicitor's license doesn't guarantee the quality of their work, but it does mean they've been identified by the city, and passed a criminal background check.
“Everybody wants a deal," said the officer, "Do you want to buy this item from a person you know nothing about? Do you have confidence this person's going to come back and fulfill their obligations to you," asked Blatman. "If you're skeptical in the least, then walk away. Ask them to leave."
Russell said the Better Business Bureau has a free app where you can research accredited and non-accredited businesses, look at reviews, and even report a scam.
“If you’re sitting in a parking lot you’re not necessarily in front of a desktop computer," Russell said. "When in doubt, check it out."
He said it's important to report scams, even if you're not sure.
"If they think its a scam and they report it, but and it ends up not being a scam, everyone is protected," he explained. "And if you report it and it is a scam, everybody’s still protected. Reporting those things is very, very important to us.”
So important that he said the BBB has streamlined the process, condensing it down to one website.
To report something to the Better Business Bureau, click here.
To report something to Kennewick Police: Call non-Emergency Dispatch: 509-628-0333
More tips from the experts
- Beware of deals that seem too good to be true
- Don't let salespeople rush you into buying something on the spot.
- If you feel pressured or uncomfortable, you're allowed to ask them to leave.
- Call police if you feel threatened.