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Solicitor activity rises on Mercer Island, police offer safety tips

The Mercer Island Police Department has experienced a recent increase in calls regarding solicitors going door-to-door to residences on Mercer Island, especially commercial salespeople selling products and services. This is a good opportunity to brush up on some tips for interacting with salespeople that arrive on your doorstep.

What do you do to avoid door-to-door salespeople?

To avoid solicitors, post a "no solicitors" or "no trespassing" sign in a conspicuous location on your home or property. On Mercer Island, it is a crime for someone to knowingly enter or remain on property when they have been given notice against trespass by a posting that is reasonably likely to come to their attention.

Remember, you are not obligated to answer the door if uninvited persons remain on your property; call 911.

What do you do when a salesperson knocks on your door?

Before opening the door, look out a window to see who is there. If you do not feel comfortable opening the door, then do not open it.

Ask the salesperson their name, company, and the product or service they are selling. If you request that they leave, they must do so immediately. If the salesperson asks to use the bathroom, the phone, or get a drink of water, refuse their request and ask the individual to leave. If the person refuses to leave or if you feel intimidated, pressured, or threatened at any time, call 911.

If you choose to purchase an item from a salesperson, you are encouraged to avoid paying immediately. Instead, find out from the salesperson how you can order directly from the company or receive the bill upon receipt of the product or service. However, if you do make a purchase directly from the salesperson, a Federal Trade Commission Regulation gives you the right to a three-business-day "cooling off period" when the sale price is more than $25.

Stay informed. In 2012, the Washington Attorney General's Office issued a press release warning citizens of door-to-door salespeople selling outrageously priced magazine subscriptions. Before giving a donation to a door-to-door charity, check out whether the charity is registered with the secretary of state. A state search engine listing registered charities is available here.

Always use good judgment when interacting with strangers at your door. The safest approach is never to allow strangers into your home. Do not be afraid to refuse to buy a product. Do not be afraid to ask someone to leave. Call 911 if you feel intimidated, pressured or threatened.

Link to Mercer Island Police Department: www.mercergov.org/police.

Kelly Leonard is the assistant city attorney for the City of Mercer Island.

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