September heralds the end of summer, bringing cool, crisp weather — and autumn-time con artists on your front step.
With elections drawing near, expect campaign workers to show up at your door, along with pollsters and people offering to update your voter registration. Legitimate canvassers will leave behind literature, or donation and registration forms that you can mail. Real pollsters won't delve deeper than your opinions of candidates and issues. Never provide your Social Security number, income level, birth date or hometown. It's all useful info for identity thieves.
Don't allow entry to unexpected "utility employees" who say they need to inspect your furnace or water heater. Utility companies don't dispatch workers to go inside your home without first notifying you. Assume that unsolicited offers for a free energy audit will lead to a hard sell for possibly unnecessary but expensive improvements. Stick with programs offered through your utility provider by appointment. And never pay a utility worker for a house call. The company will bill you.
See also: Home repair scams to avoid
With school back in session, local kids may go door-to-door to raise money for team uniforms or school-sponsored charities. Support those you recognize; strangers could be scammers or employees of crooked vendors seeking cash, checks or credit card numbers.
Beware of charities you've never heard of claiming to raise money for victims of a recent disaster, wounded vets, police and fire departments, or sick kids.
Watch out for couriers who arrive with an unexpected package. In one growing scheme, they show up unannounced (or following a phone call about a supposed package) and ask for a nominal "verification fee" paid with a credit card in order to receive the item.
Sid Kirchheimer is the author of Scam-Proof Your Life, published by AARP Books/Sterling.