Now that warmer weather is here, outdoor projects and dreaded home maintenance to-do lists are looming large. Also looming large are the scam artists looking to take advantage of unsuspecting homeowners who in a moment of weakness agree to take them up on an offer that sounds too good to be true.
Gutter cleaning and repairs, tree removal, roof and driveway repairs, house painting are just a few of the services offered by travelling criminal groups often referred to by law enforcement as "travelers." Travelers are often of Scottish or Irish descent and generally target the elderly. They generally use fictitious names and have fraudulent identification. They are highly-trained and organized criminals who make their living by scamming people out of their hard earned money.
These groups defy the images normally conjured up when we think of criminals. They are often extremely polite, well dressed, and are masters at persuasion. They consider their criminal enterprise a true profession, are amazingly manipulative, and actually practice their sales pitch. They can also improvise their approach to fit any situation. Because these individuals are so good at what they do, your best defense is to firmly refuse any services offered and tell them to leave your property immediately.
Door-to-door sales as a legitimate way of promoting a business is quickly becoming a thing of the past as more companies embrace Internet and social media sites as a way to market goods and services. If you should find yourself in need of a particular service, your safest bet is to seek out a referral from two or three trusted family members or neighbors.
It works to your advantage to be the one to initiate the conversation with a potential service provider. Ask to see a business license and proof that the company is bonded and insured. Compare rates with competitors and check to see if there is a local business address or satellite office. Check online to see if there have been complaints filed with the Better Business Bureau. Lastly, get a written estimate and never pay with cash.
And don’t forget, in unincorporated Cobb County, door-to-door solicitors are required to have a solicitor's permit issued by the Cobb County Business License Division and is valid for 30 days from the date of issuance. This permit may be displayed on either shoulder of the solicitor’s clothing and must be visible to the customer. Each solicitor is required to have one, so don’t accept the excuse that the boss back at the office has it. If someone shows up at your door without this permit displayed, call 911 and let an officer check it out.
For more information on crime trends and safety tips, please visit the Cobb Police Department's crime prevention resource page.