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Police out with fraud warning about unsolicited phone and door-to-door sales

They say a 91-year-old man recently lost $30,000 after signing three 120-month contracts
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NEWS RELEASE
WATERLOO REGIONAL POLICE
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Waterloo Regional Police are warning residents to be careful when receiving phone calls from salespeople offering free home inspections or gifts in exchange for an in-home appointment.

On March 1, 2018, new legislation (Bill 193) was passed by the Ontario provincial government banning door-to-door sales. The rules were put in place to protect vulnerable people from falling victim to unclear contracts and misrepresentations by sales people.

The ban covers door-to-door sales of the following products and services:

Air cleaners, air conditioners, air purifiers, duct cleaning services, furnaces, water filters, water heaters, water purifiers, water softeners, water treatment devices, and any bundles of these goods and services.

In efforts to by-pass the new legislation, some companies are using phone solicitation, offering free services or products to entice victims to set up in-home appointments. Once the sales person is in the home, customers are encouraged to purchase a product and sign a contract. In some cases, homeowners sign contracts that are then sold to third party lenders. These companies then assume the contract and collect monthly payments from the customer. To ensure interest on the product that was installed in the home, the company places a lien on the homeowner’s property. In many cases, the lien isn't discovered until the home is sold, often costing the homeowner tens of thousands of dollars.

In one instance, an elderly couple from Waterloo Region was scammed out of $24,000 after entering into a 120-month contract with fluctuating interest rates for the purchase of an air conditioner and a furnace. The elderly couple were not fully aware of the details included in the contract, until their daughter took over their finances and noticed the monthly payments coming from their bank account. The family quickly learned about the lengthy contracts and the liens that had been placed on their home.

In another report, a 91-year-old male was targeted by multiple companies and had entered into three, 120-month contracts for a furnace, water softener and a water purification system, resulting in an estimated loss of $30,000. 

In both cases, the salespeople used high pressure sale tactics to get their victims to sign confusing and misleading contracts.

The Waterloo Regional Police Service wants to remind the public to be vigilant when receiving unsolicited phone calls or door-to door sales. The following are safety tips to consider:

  • Do not allow any door-to-door sales persons into your home unless you have sought them out for a specific purpose.
  • Do not be confused by unsolicited phone calls offering free services or gifts.
  • If a sales person is in your home and you do not feel comfortable, contact the police immediately.
  • Speak with and educate vulnerable persons and seniors in your life to ensure they have not fallen victim to these types of companies and contracts. 
  • If you have already entered into a contract, a title search can be done on a property to identify any security interests (Liens) that may exist.

 
If at any point you believe that you may be a victim of door-to-door sales contracts, contact police immediately by calling 519-570-9777. You can also file a report with the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services online at: www.ontario.ca/page/ministry-government-and-consumer-services

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