If a Stranger Knocks on Your Door and Offers This, Call the Authorities, Police Warn
You might be tempted, but police say you need to be cautious and firm.
A knock at your front door might be surprising, but it certainly doesn't always indicate something sinister. Girl Scouts go door to door selling their cookies, and neighbors occasionally stop by to offer a friendly hello. But sometimes you hear a knock and find that it's a stranger, in which case you might want to take extra caution. As it turns out, if they're offering you something in particular, you're right to stay on high alert. Read on to find out when police say you should contact the authorities immediately.
Scammers aren't afraid to target you face-to-face.
Police have been actively warning residents about different schemes where criminals are bold enough to show up on your doorstep. In June, police in Chicago warned residents about a burglary scheme where suspects knock on the door and ask about home repairs or water problems. While the victim—usually an older adult—is distracted, the thief then enters the home and take valuables, jewelry, and money.
In another instance, the Bradenton Police Department in Bradenton, Florida cautioned citizens about a pest control scam. As part of the con, suspects show up and pretend to be pest control employees. In reality, they're thieves intending to steal from their victims upon gaining entry to the home.
Now, there's another scam gaining traction, and police say you'll need to be proactive to keep yourself safe.
If an offer sounds too good to be true, it very well might be.
Starting a home improvement project takes time and planning, so if someone shows up at your door and offers to take care of an issue for you, you might be inclined to accept. However, police in Cheyenne, Wyoming, are warning residents against doing just that, as you could fall victim to a tricky scam.
In a Sept. 17 Facebook post, the Cheyenne Police Department (CPD) warned the public about a scheme involving asphalt paving.
"In what appears to be a nationwide trend, a male suspect will knock on a homeowner's door saying he has extra asphalt from another job that needs to be used," the CPD post stated, adding that the scammer also offers to complete the job at a discounted rate.
Older adults are particularly at risk, police said, as the suspect uses aggressive tactics to get their target to agree. "His high-pressure approach can be confusing and intimidating to victims, who are typically senior citizens," police said.
Scammers proceed to say the project will cost more.
If victims don't "firmly refuse" the offer, a paving crew appears quite quickly to begin the job. But things get complicated when the scammer tells the homeowner that there is a discrepancy with the previously agreed-upon price.
"The scammer then claims there is a mistake or issue and that the price will now be thousands of dollars more than discussed," CPD said. "Refusal to pay the additional amount results in the scammer threatening to leave the driveway incomplete."
Upon trying to contact the paving company, victims also find that they were provided with a false name or the name of a company that was not involved.
Police have several tips to help you avoid falling for this scam.
You may feel inclined to be polite and consider it a stroke of good luck that someone is offering to pave your driveway at a fair price. However, police asked that residents "be wary of unsolicited offers," as "most scams begin when random workers go out of their way to offer an estimate that was never requested."
Police also instructed any victims or those who "see something suspicious" to call local authorities immediately.
In the event you are having your driveway paved, you can take certain proactive steps, namely taking the time to research companies before deciding who to hire. You should get all agreements in writing, and don't let work begin without a signed contract, police said. Never give payment upfront before work has begun, and always utilize safe payment methods; credit cards can add an extra layer of protection, while cash and apps like Zelle and Venmo can make it difficult for you to get your money back.