Door to Door business scams
Here’s how it works. The suspect provides a quote at a reduced rate and the owner agrees, providing a portion of the money up front. The fraudster does not complete the job and goes on to another victim. Once a contract has been agreed upon, this often becomes a civil issue and may not be a criminal one, leaving the business owner to take civil court action against someone they don’t know and a company that truly doesn’t exist.
A similar fraud was reported in 2009. More than six persons were scammed out of thousands of dollars that summer when they entered into a contract with pavers going door to door. Interestingly, in those cases the suspect provided a name of ‘James’ and had an English accent.
Police want to warn the public about this scam. Whether you own a residence or a business, you could be a target. Please exercise caution when approached by anyone offering a service or product where money is exchanged before the contract is fulfilled.
Uninvited businesses that operate door to door are required to provide contracts for their services and products. These contracts are regulated by Consumer Protection BC.
Consumer Protection BC and the Prince George RCMP want to recognize that there are legitimate businesses that operate door to door. Here are some tips to help consumers when dealing with door to door businesses:
- Know whom you are dealing with. Personnel from these businesses should have no problem providing identification & documentation;
- Confirm your seller’s name, address and telephone number. Employees should know the company address and phone number;
- If an offer is too good to be true, it almost always is. Products and services priced way below market value should cause some red flags;
- Call the businesses’ customer service line. Check to see if the phone number works and if it does, ask them questions;
- Know your cancellation rights. BC’s consumer contracts regulation gives you 10 days to cancel your door-to-door sales contract for any reason. You also have up to a year to cancel if your contract doesn’t include certain information (such as the business’s name and total price and payment terms);
- Be cautious of down payments and keep a copy of your contract. BC’s consumer contracts regulation also states that if you’re asked to make a down payment, it can’t be more than 10 per cent of the total cost or $100 – the lesser of the two. You must also receive a copy of the contract at the time of signing or it’s not binding;
- Ask questions about prize incentives. Surveys or prize incentives are tactics that can used by some door-to-door salespeople who want to gain access to your home and run you through sales presentations. Make an informed decision and be sure you want the service or product before accepting any free gifts;
- Do your research. Before signing any contract or committing to a purchase, it’s always a good idea to get more information first – ask our friends or neighbours about their experience or do some research about the company online. You can also contact your local Better Business Bureau, the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre and Consumer Protection BC, to enquire about the business.;
- Don’t rush. Ask the sales person for some time to think about the purchase. A legitimate salesperson will not pressure you. And remember that it’s also okay to say no;
For more information about your rights as well as general consumer tips around door to door sales, please visit www.consumerprotectionbc.ca/blog (English only). While it does not investigate scams or fraud, if you have questions about your door to door sales contract cancellation rights, please contact Consumer Protection BC at 1-888-564-9963 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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