Friday, September 12, 2014

Beware Of Teenage "Fit For Life" Door To Door Solicitor And How To Protect Yourself

We received the below email yesterday from a neighbor regarding a teenager selling magazines under the name Fit for Life. whose website says: :

Fit for Life Network, Inc. is a Personal Development Sales Organization. We sell magazines. All Agents are background checked and must be at least 18 years of age. Our purpose is to assist young people wishing to enter the productive work force. We provide a fun life style while teaching practical work skills and sales experience. Rewards are based on a points system and might translate into tuition payments or the exotic vacation you always wanted.
The neighbor's email said:
I live in the area of 45th Avenue NE and NE 38th Street and wanted to warn others of a potential scam in our neighborhood.  A high school age boy came to our door to help fund his trip to play in a baseball tournament and possibly end up on ESPN.  He introduced himself as the grandson of a neighbor.

When showing us the "brochure", he flashed a lot of money (showing all the  money other neighbors have given). He said that the way the donations
worked is that 75% went to buy books for kids at children's hospital and
they got 25% (or something like that).   
The brochure did not look like it matched a fundraising effort.  He had hand written notes with suggested  donation packages on the order of hundreds of dollars, but suggested I just make a smaller cash donation that would be combined with other neighborhood donations.

He had nothing to prove that this was an official fundraiser.  The website
he gave was fitforlife.  He also gave me a cell number, which no one
answered when I called later.

He was very clean cut, well spoken.  He was in a white Mariners shirt and
plaid shorts.  My initial instinct was to give money without even hearing
all the details so I could get back to dinner.   He also interacted with
my kids, asking them if they play baseball.

I hope I am wrong, but if it is a scam, I think he will do quite well in
our neighborhood.   I know some neighbors have already given him money.
The Laurelhurst Blog staff did some research on "Fit For Life" and found it has numerous complaints nationwide from those who gave money and didn't receive anything in return.

Here are just a few of the websites documenting incidents of scamming by this company:
Scambook: Fit for Life
Better Business Bureau in Denver, CO - documents about 50 complaints
Complaints Board
Door to door Fundraising Scam Doesn't Benefit UC Davis Children's Hospital
Fit For Life Magazine Sales For the Troops Are A Fraud
Woman Victim To Group Soliciting For Fake Fundraiser

The Seattle Police Department says:
Most of these solicitors are not legitimate. These solicitors are scammers and give very little, if any, of the money they collect to the charity or organization they claim to represent.If a solicitor comes to your door, do not open the door but tell them through the closed door "No thank you" or "not interested." If you do answer the door and the solicitor becomes angry, threatening or verbally abusive, call 911."
 Here are more  tips given by the Seattle Police North Precinct Crime Prevention Coordinator:  

Homeowners may consider posting a "No Solicitor" sign indicating “No agents,” “No peddlers,” or “No Solicitors.” In Seattle, it is unlawful for any residential seller to attempt to gain admittance for the purpose of selling at any residence displaying one of these signs.

Before opening your door look for proper identification. In Seattle, all door-to-door sellers must display the residential sales identification which includes the seller’s photograph on their outer clothing, along with the name of the licensee as well as the agent, and the type of product or service being sold. The license is only valid for the product or service specified. If you have any questions about whether a company is properly licensed, call the City of Seattle’s Office of Revenue & Consumer Affairs 206-684-8136.

Acknowledge the knock since ignoring it may lead to an attempted burglary. It is preferable to speak to strangers through your door.

Each residential seller is required to immediately upon contacting the prospective buyer, disclose their name, company and the product or service represented.

If requested to do so, the seller must leave the premises immediately. If the individual does not leave, or if an attempt to gain access is ade by asking to use the bathroom, the phone or get a drink of water, refuse the request and ask the individual to leave. If you feel intimidated, pressured, or threatened at any time, call 911.

It is safer not to allow the salesperson into your home.

Don't pay immediately or give the salesperson cash or a check, as it may be pocketed and you will never receive the product ordered. Instead, find out from the seller how you can order directly from he company or receive the bill upon receipt of the product/service. If the salesperson is concerned about losing their commission for the sale, offer to provide their name when placing your order.

In Seattle, if you make a purchase, the salesperson must tell you of your right to cancel the order and the contract must include a statement regarding the right to cancel as well as a notice informing the buyer of their right to cancel the order any time prior to midnight of the third business day after the date of the transaction. A completed Notice of Canelllation (in duplicate) must be provided to the purchaser at the time they purchase from the seller. You do not need to provide a reason for canceling the order.

For each sale of ten dollars or more, the seller must provide a receipt or contract to the purchaser. Do not leave any blanks on your contract. Be sure the contract or receipt is dated and that it states the terms of the transaction, the amount of payment made and the name and address of the residential seller.

Never be afraid to say “NO!” to high pressure tactics and end your conversation with the salesperson.

Avoid making an immediate purchase in order to receive a “free gift.”

If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

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