Opening the door to an unknown person can be unnerving. It becomes even more uncomfortable when the stranger on the other side begins the interaction with high pressure sales tactics like time-limited offers.
Often these face-to-face interactions are for a service or the sale of an item like an air conditioner or furnace. The problem is that homeowners, often seniors, are targeted and persuaded into thinking they need this service or product immediately. They’re given little time to think, react, or consult with someone else, and enter into an agreement that can be financially harmful.
A common door-to-door scam involves the promise of repairing or repaving a driveway. The victim agrees to the work and pays for all or part of the agreement, only to have their driveway torn up or inadequately repaired. The company is then unable to be reached to complete the work.
Keep in mind, most door-to-door sales are illegal in Ontario. In 2018, the Ontario government banned unsolicited sales of certain goods and services. These include:
- Air cleaners, air conditioners, air purifiers
- Duct cleaning services
- Water filters, water heaters, water purifiers, water softeners, water treatment devices
- Bundles of these goods and services
More recently, some Ontarians have fallen victim to being pressured into signing contracts that are being used to take out a Notice of Security Interest (NOSI), commonly known as liens, against a home or property, causing further financial harm. Often, the homeowner is completely unaware that a mortgage or a lien is being added to their home.
The provincial government is now being pressured to remove the NOSI practice. As it stands, there is a loophole in the Consumer Protection Act that allows fraudsters to place a NOSI without the homeowner’s knowledge, potentially causing victims to lose tens of thousands of dollars.
To better protect yourself against a door-to-door scam, experts are offering these tips for homeowners:
- Slow down. Allow yourself time to think and consult with a trusted person (family member, friend, neighbour) to review the offer
- Be cautious. Have a natural skepticism about uninvited strangers coming to your home
- Do research. Select a reputable contractor or company and ask for testimonials before agreeing to a contract
- Report it. Contact police or the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre if you believe you have been targeted
- Title search. A title search can be done to discover and address a NOSI against your home
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