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Safety Tips at Home

Here are a few suggestions to limit the chance of becoming a victim in your own home.  If someone comes to your door trying to sell you something or claiming to be from a utilities department needing to check your home, or offering to do home repair, keep these suggestions in mind. Ask to see some form of identification confirming that they work for who they say they work for. Ask if they have a current business license and ask to see a copy of it. Note that employees of utility departments such as water and sewer, gas, power companies, telephone, cable TV. and appliance repairs generally wear a uniform and or drive a company vehicle with the logo plainly visible. Companies who offer security alarms are governed by state legislation and carry an I.D. that clearly identifies who they work for and that they are certified. If the person refuses to abide by your request and is persistent on entering your home, CALL THE POLICE. And finally, NEVER let anyone into your home whom you do not know or that you are not absolutely satisfied that they are who they are and represent who they say the represent. It's sometimes hard to tell if a sales pitch is legitimate or fraudulent. You can't judge it by the tone of someone's voice or how sincere the person seems. Good salesmen are convincing, but so are crooks. But here are a few tip-offs that might alert you to a scam. You get a call or postcard from someone telling you you've won a prize and asking for payment to buy something, for processing or administrative fees, for taxes, or any other reason. Legitimate sweepstakes or prize offers don't ask for payment because that's illegal. The person says you have to take the offer immediately or you'll miss the opportunity. Legitimate companies don't pressure people to act without time to look into the deal. The caller refuses to send you written information before you commit to anything. Legitimate companies are always glad to send information about what they're offering. The caller claims that you can make huge profits in an investment with no risk. All investments are risky and legitimate companies must tell consumers about the possible risks involved. The caller claims that you can make huge profits through a franchise or other business opportunity with little or no effort. All business ventures require knowledge and effort on the part of buyers, and no legitimate companies would guarantee profits. The caller is asking for a donation but won't tell you exactly how the money will be used or how you can verify the charity and what it does. Legitimate charities are willing to say what percentage of contributions are used for the charity and how much goes to overhead and fund raising. They are also willing to tell consumers whom they can check with to confirm that they are legitimate. The caller insists that you send your payment by a private courier or wire money. Legitimate companies don't try to keep people from checking the deal out and changing their minds, nor try to evade the postal authorities by demanding immediate payment by courier or wire. The company asks for cash. Legitimate companies don't ask for cash. Con artists do because they often have trouble getting merchant approval from the credit card companies, and they also want to he hard to trace. The caller asks for your social security number. Legitimate companies don't ask for that unless you are applying for credit and they need to check your credit report. The caller asks for your credit card number, bank account number, or other financial information when you aren't buying anything or paying with those accounts. Legitimate companies only asks for financial information to bill you or debit your account for purchases you've agreed to make. The company calls you relentlessly or after you've asked not to be called anymore. Legitimate companies will take "no" for an answer and will take you off their calling list if you ask them to. Con artists will keep on calling to wear you down or get more money from you. The company offers to get you a loan, credit, or a credit card, or offers to "repair" your bad credit if you pay an up-front fee. Legitimate lenders and credit card issuers do not demand payment in advance, and no one can get bad information removed from a credit file if it is accurate. The company offers to get back money that you have lost to another fraudulent scheme if you pay an up-front fee. Law enforcement agencies don't ask for payment to help consumers get their money back, and it is illegal for a company to ask for advance payment for such services. Remember giving money to a fraudulent telemarketer usually means losing it forever. Don't let a criminal break into your home through your telephone line!