The Highlands County Sheriff's Office is asking residents to be vigilant about door-to-door salespeople.
"Everything from vacuum cleaners to meat, to floor cleaners and water treatments; people are coming around offering to sell you the best product ever," said spokeswoman Nell Hays.
Door-to-door salespeople do not have to be licensed in Highlands County, so "unless they give you background information it's not going to be on file at the county and they have not been verified," she adds.
Over the years, fewer people are being scammed by door-to-door peddlers, likely due to the vigilance of Neighborhood Watch groups and a "concentrated" effort on the part of the crime prevention unit, road patrol and criminal investigations, but "we still have people that make deals they wish they hadn't made."
Hays advised residents to be aware that when they invite salespeople into their homes, purchase a product or service and subsequently find out that the product does not live up to the hype, the majority of the cases become civil in nature and law enforcement cannot prosecute the sellers.
"Our advice is to refrain from doing business with door-to-door salespeople unless you have verified their product or service through the Better Business Bureau or unless you have already established a good relationship with them," she said.
"Please remember the three elements of a scam: If it's too good to be true, there's an element of secrecy and there's an element of urgency … it's a scam," she added.
Hays also warned people to be aware that by allowing a stranger into their home, they are letting them canvass the house to see what valuables are there, if there is an alarm system or a pet, if the resident lives alone, their routines and even if they take medications that could have street value.
"Good salespeople can find out a lot about you simply by asking a few pointed questions and asking to use your bathroom. Please be cautious about who gets to enter your home and your life," she added.
For questions, call the Crime Prevention Unit at (863) 402-7369 or Central Dispatch at (863) 402-7200 to request law enforcement response.