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BBB Tip of the Week: Door-to-door scams

Summer is the season for door-to-door salespeople offering deals on goods and services, such as home repairs or improvements. Both legitimate companies and scammers take advantage of the good weather.

In some cases, aggressive door-to-door salespeople have pushed their way into homes or bullied people into purchasing nearly worthless goods and services. In other cases, the door-to-door salesperson offers services such as driveway repaving or tree trimming but with an ulterior motive. When the work begins, the homeowner is distracted so that thieves can enter the home and steal valuables.

In another scam, a person claiming to be a contractor arrives at your door saying he has finished a nearby job early. He offers home improvements or repairs for a good price, but the work is often shoddy or done with subpar materials.

The Better Business Bureau offers the following tips when dealing with door-to-door solicitations:

• If you feel pressured to make a decision, halt the conversation. Ask for printed materials about the offer, so you can look them over at your own pace and do your research. You can verify a contractor, tradesperson or business within the state of Washington at https://secure.lni.wa.gov/verify/.

• If the salesperson can’t provide a valid street address and phone number for the company, then end the discussion and ask the person to leave.

• If you decide to enter into an agreement with a company that has come to your door, get the agreement in writing. Make sure you get the following in writing: total cost of goods and services, warranties and return guarantees, full return policy, any financing information and all conditions of the sale.

• Before you sign a contract, read it fully and make sure you understand it. Cross out any empty blank spaces before signing. That way nothing is added without your permission.

According to the federal Cooling-Off Rule, in many cases you have three business days to cancel the sale and contract. However, Saturday is considered a business day. Check out the exceptions to the rule at http://1.usa.gov/1sKQTD9.

To cancel within the cooling-off period, sign, date and send copies of the cancellation form by certified mail. If you weren’t given a cancellation, then you can send a cancellation letter instead.

You can check out a business with the BBB at www.bbb.org or by calling (509) 455-4200.

By Erin T. Dodge, BBB editor



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