Learn How to Protect You and Your Family from Consumer Scams & Risks

From cable installers, appliance repair, plumbers and electricians to delivery personnel and landscapers, how can you trust that the strangers coming on your property are safe for you and your family? While consumers are mindful of the threats with retail or online shopping, you actually might be more at risk in your own home when you open the door to servicing companies that fail to properly protect you and your family by not vetting employees.

Most Service Employees Have Never Had a Criminal Check Completed

More than 90 percent of consumers believe that the service people entering their homes have had a background check and drug screening, when the fact is the majority of them have never had a criminal check completed.

Independent research completed in 2011 showed that one in five consumers did not feel safe when these individuals were in their home. Of this number, 35 percent were still concerned about their safety even after the service person had left their home.

“He tried to lead the conversation into inappropriate topics,” said one survey respondent. “He kept looking around my home. At one time, when I found him in another room, he said 'I was just looking for your bathroom.'”

Warning Signs of Potential Problems With a Service Technician

To better protect you and your family, here are the top 10 warning signs consumers should be aware of when opening the door to repairmen:

  1. Somebody arrives unexpectedly or is not the person you expected.
  2. He can’t produce valid company identification.
  3. He doesn’t have proper paperwork.
  4. He continuously invades your personal space.
  5. He enters rooms outside the immediate service area and/or shows interest in household items other than the reason for the visit.
  6. He raises inappropriate topics of conversation.
  7. He shows unusual interest in you or your children.
  8. He appears or acts less than professional in any way.
  9. He brings a friend on the call.
  10. He asks to use your restroom.

Important Questions to Ask Your Service Company

To combat these fears, there are some basic questions consumers should ask the service company prior to setting the appointment:

  1. Do you background screen your employees and contractors? What is the name of the person coming to my house?
  2. What type of identification will the person have? A badge? An ID? Paperwork?
  3. Will there be anybody else accompanying the person?
  4. Will the person need to come inside my home? And where in my home will the repairman need to go? My garage? My bedroom?

Positive Things You Can Do To Protect Yourself

After you make an appointment inform your friends and family that you are expecting a house call. When the repairman arrives, call your spouse, friend or neighbor so the repairman can hear and say, ‘The repairman just arrived. I will call you as soon as he leaves which should be about 30 minutes.’ This puts the repairman on notice that others are watching. If you can have another adult there with you, that’s even better.

Never allow someone into your home or on your property that you did not contact or expect. If you receive a telemarketing offer and are interested, ask for their number and call them back so you have a record and you know the company is legitimate.  

Finally, call the police if the situation warrants.