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Office of Consumer Protection

Door-To-Door Scams

Knock, knock.  Do you know who is at your door?   Be warned, local police frequently issue warnings to consumers about door-to-door scams.  Scammers will come to your door throughout the year trying to sell magazines, food products, home improvement services, pest control companies, driveway pavers, or they may even try to solicit “donations.”
The ‘Nice Person’ Trap  One of the traits criminals count on is the politeness of neighborhood residents, who want to be helpful to others. It is difficult for many seniors to act in what they feel is a rude manner, even to those they do not know. In addition, if the person is impersonating an authority figure, such as a city official, police officer, etc., the task of facing them down becomes even more imposing to a senior.
The simplest answer is to not open the door at all to a stranger. Keeping the door closed is the simplest way of preventing a confrontation.  Contacting police can make them aware of the territory scammers are staking out, and can allow them to monitor the area, and to keep all residents informed of the threat.
Watch Out For:
Criminals use a variety of ruses to get in the door. These include (but are certainly not limited to) the following:
  • Stealing a victim’s mail so that the scammer knows the name of the resident;
  • Stating they are a city worker (claiming they need to check the water meter, gas meter, pipes, gas line, etc.)
  • Posing as police officers, BGE workers, phone company reps, or TV system (cable, satellite, etc.) workers;
  • Representing themselves as “Avon ladies,” insurance adjustors or door-to-door salespersons.
Avoid Being Scammed:
  • Ask to see a door to door vendor license. (It is required if an individual travels from place to place to sell goods or services.) Make sure the vendor license has an expiration date. If a person does not display or have a license, ask their name and the company they are working for to see if they are tricking you. A complaint can be made to the Department of Permitting Services by completing an online form at  http://permittingservices.montgomerycountymd.gov ;
  • Do not open the door to any stranger.
If You Need Help:
  • To verify a license, contact the Montgomery County Department of Permitting Services by calling 240.777.0311.
  • To report a scam, contact the Montgomery County Office of Consumer Protection by calling 240.777.3636 or Email:   ConsumerProtection@montgomerycountymd.gov.

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