Door-to-Door Scams: How to Spot Imposters and Fraud

Scammers sometimes pose as company reps. Here’s how to spot the fakes.

Remember the duck test?

“If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck.” The old saying is mostly true, but sometimes the ducks are actually weasels in disguise.

In recent months, Arvig has received multiple reports of people unaffiliated with the company contacting customers with phony service offers.

In June, an authorized third party claiming to be from Arvig contacted residents in the Watkins, Minn., area with a bogus offer for television service. In July, residents in the Rochester and Mahnomen, Minn., areas reported being approached by people claiming to be Arvig service technicians who asked to enter their homes. One group of fraudsters asked to “check their boxes,” and in another case, imposters claimed they were “checking signal strength.”

Legitimate service, dishonest tactics
Sometimes, the imposters are less obvious, and their intentions might not entirely be a scam. For example, a dishonest third-party vendor might be selling legitimate services, but using sleazy sales tactics to do the job. They might say they are partnering with a reputable company to sweeten an offer or make a sales pitch sound more appealing.

If you are offered a third-party service from someone claiming to be a representative of a certain company, you should verify an offer with the company directly and pay attention to your statements to be sure you are being billed only for services you consented to receive.

Identifying imposters
Recent cases of fraud in the Arvig service area highlight the need to be on the lookout for imposters. Legitimate Arvig employees and partner companies don’t conduct business this way.

“Arvig takes customer safety and security very seriously. We are committed to being respectful of every residence we enter,” says Mark Birkholz, Director of Customer Care and Southern Markets. “If one of our service technicians needs to enter a customer’s home, or even visit a property, an appointment is always scheduled with our customer care, help-desk or dispatch teams first. Our technicians and authorized vendors will always call prior to arriving at a residence.”

If you are approached in an unusual manner by someone claiming to be an Arvig employee or acting on behalf of Arvig in some way, be suspicious. Imitators making shady offers and vague claims could be posing as employees in an effort to enter your home and scam you. Others, though they might not want to intentionally defraud you, instead could be selling a legitimate service, but doing so without being honest about how or from whom the service is being delivered to you.

Trusting fraudsters could have many consequences, including stolen equipment, money, personal identities and in the worst case, physical harm.  Giving your personal information to an unaffiliated third-party could result in fraudulent charges for service, higher bills or an unintentional change of service.

Red flag: Unscheduled service calls
You can always contact Arvig if you need help. Our technicians are glad to do in-house service calls when necessary. When a customer reaches out for assistance such as through chat or social media, Arvig will proactively respond or call directly to offer help. An Arvig employee or vendor we contract with would not show up at your door without having first scheduled an appointment. Further, our technicians are given documented work orders before being dispatched for a service call. Arvig service technicians always call before arriving at your home—both to confirm an appointment and to make sure you are expecting them as planned.

Reg flag: Phony sales offers
Occasionally, Arvig sales teams do door-to-door sales, but a legitimate salesperson would be wearing Arvig branded clothing, driving a vehicle with the Arvig logo and carrying branded Arvig business cards with their name, title and contact information. Arvig salespeople wouldn’t push a customer, demand to enter a home or make someone uncomfortable. They might not even ask to come inside, instead keeping the conversation at the front door.

What you can do
Imposters might act and appear trustworthy, and they might even make offers that sound appealing, but con artists only act that way to deceive you and carry out their scam. Here’s what you can do to protect yourself.

+ Be suspicious of unusual offers
Don’t accept unsolicited offers of service. Don’t offer your personal information or any payment. If you’re pressured to act quickly or if they demand an immediate, up-front payment it’s possible you are being scammed.

+ Report an imposter to the company
If you think you have been contacted by an imposter, report it to the company being impersonated. This will allow the company to notify other people and prevent further fraudulent activity.

+ Call the company
Confirm independently whether a business is trying to contact you. You can use the customer service number or email address from invoices, account statements or online.

+ Just say no
If you receive an unsolicited offer for service or you are asked to divulge personal information, you are right to be suspicious. It’s OK to shut the door or hang up the call.

+ Contact the authorities
If you are in danger or think your safety is at risk, call 911.

Updated: Sep 8, 2021