Knock, knock: Hello, may I see your permit?A young man, perhaps a teenager, comes to the door. He says he’s selling magazines to earn money for a trip to Mexico. The woman in the house says no, she’s not buying anything.
By: Phil Pfuehler, River Falls Journal
A young man, perhaps a teenager, comes to the door. He says he’s selling magazines to earn money for a trip to Mexico. The woman in the house says no, she’s not buying anything.
The older teenager -- described by police as a white male, dark hair, olive complexion, possibly drunk or high, with bad B.O. -- then asks repeatedly if he can use the woman’s bathroom.
She says no and won’t allow him in the house.
He doesn’t force the issue and finally goes away.
River Falls Police Chief Roger Leque says this recent incident on the city’s west side is why residents should be cautious about those who come selling to their doors.
“There are many legitimate organizations that solicit door-to-door to sell products or services,” Leque said. “However, there are also those who are interested in illegally soliciting to commit fraud or facilitate some other crime.”
Leque pointed out the city has a law that requires people who sell door-to-door to get a permit.
Those who apply for one go through a police department records check before a permit is given.
“This is an effort to help ensure safety of citizens in the community,” Leque said, adding that anyone concerned about the legitimacy of a direct seller should call City Hall at 715-425-0900.
If the situation is more of an emergency, call police weekdays at 715-425-0909, or 911 on evenings or weekends.
If asked, a seller should be able to produce his city seller’s permit.
Leque offered a range of tips that should make a homeowner or tenant question the motives of a so-called seller:
- If the person behaves aggressively, acts threatening, or tries to make you feel guilty for not buying what’s being sold.
- Pressures you for a quick decision and demands cash.
- Pressures you into signing a contract on the spot. If you sign, first read the contract thoroughly.
- Asks for bank account and Social Security numbers, names and dates of birth, etc.
- Tries to enter your home by jiggling door handles if no one answers or tries peering in through a window.
- Someone who comes to your door offering to clean your home, do home improvements, etc., and asks for money before any work is done.
- Refuses to show paperwork that properly identifies the seller and to verify what’s being sold or to give an employer phone number and address.
- If the seller won’t show identification or contact information, don’t give money and ask the seller to leave. If the seller refuses or becomes irate, shut the door and call 911.
- If you don’t feel comfortable giving a seller money, don’t! Don’t let anyone “guilt” you into paying money or buying a product.
- Be wary of stories like: “I live in your neighborhood,” or, “My car is broken down just around the corner.” If you don’t recognize the person, it’s likely not your neighbor. If the person’s car is broken down, say you’re calling police to come provide assistance.
Leque said be especially wary of a seller or stranger at your door who asks to come in and use a phone or bathroom.
“Allowing a stranger into your home is a high risk activity and puts you, your family and your possessions at risk of being cased for future criminal activity or immediate criminal activity such as assault or theft,” Leque said.
Anyone who feels threatened, intimidated or concerned about safety should call police.
Leque advises that callers can help their cause if they become good witnesses -- giving physical descriptions of suspects and suspect vehicles, including a license plate number for the latter.
Even with a city permit, direct door-to-door sellers are also prohibiting from calling between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. without an appointment.