How to avoid door-to-door scammers

Scammers know that direct, personal contact with a target yields the greatest income. Staring someone in the eyes and telling that person “no” is something many people can’t do. It’s a weakness that scammers are counting on to take what’s yours. If a scammer’s lie is compelling enough, can you resist the urge to give in to his request for money? Let’s find out.

A person shows up your door and introduces herself as a volunteer for Hope for the Families of Violence Victims. She explains that the organization is collecting donations to help the families of victims in the recent mass shooting that you watched in the news the previous day. The money will be used to help grieving families with funeral costs, child care, and general cash assistance to help pay their bills during this difficult time. She even shows photographs of some of the victims, all of which you recognize from television. Do you donate to the cause?

If you do, you could be giving money to a scammer who is preying on your good nature and willingness to help others in their time of need.

There are two ways to avoid this and any other potential door-to-door scam. First, don’t answer the door. It’s the easiest solution to avoid being manipulated into giving someone your money. If you’re curious as to who is attempting to gain contact with you, have a way to see the person without opening the door. A peephole or security camera is a good way to accomplish this. Don’t rely on looking through a window to see who is waiting for a response. The person might smile or wave at you and cause you to lower your guard.

The second way to avoid a scam is deployed when you feel compelled to open the door. In the case of charity scams, never donate money on the spot. If the person belongs to a real charitable organization, that organization will be willing to wait for your donation while you do your homework. Take whatever handouts the person offers you and research the organization online, if you’re interested in donating to the cause. Type in the name of the organization followed by the word scam in your favorite Internet search engine to see what surfaces.

Never hand someone money who shows up at your door unannounced. Always research any solicitation from any organization, even if you recognize the name of the organization the person claims to represent. That person could be lying about his or her affiliation.

If a person pressures you into giving him cash, that’s a serious red flag warning. Scammers want their money now, not tomorrow or next week. They know if they’re unable to milk you out of your resources right then and there, chances are they’ll never get a dime from you in the future.

To avoid the worry of being manipulated into giving a door-to-door scammer your hard-earned cash, do not open the door to a stranger when he or she knocks or rings. Don’t tell the person to go away or that you’re not interested. That opens the virtual door to interaction, even if you leave the physical door closed, and it could be an opening that person needs to manipulate you into a desired action. Instead, say nothing to the person at your door. Criminals avoid wasting their time on someone who won’t pay, and they will eventually leave to find easier prey elsewhere.

Bottom line – unless you know who is on the other end of your door, never answer it. It prevents a potential scammer from manipulating you and keeps your money out of a criminal’s hands.