Protect Yourself: Never Allow Uninvited Strangers In Your Home

by Kevin on October 18, 2010

I had an odd experience recently that will hopefully serve as a valuable lesson to my readers.

I should first note that we’re trying to sell our home. Big sign in the front yard, trying to get as many qualified showings as possible… all that jazz that’s a pain in the rear (and fodder for future posts!)

So here’s the story. My wife and I went out of town on a weekend to visit some of our college friends. We came back around lunch, brought our stuff in from the car (suitcase, pillows, etc.), and generally got settled back in to our familiar surroundings.

About 1:45 the doorbell rang. For some of you this may not be an odd occurrence. For us, well, the doorbell never rings. We don’t have random strangers knocking on our doors on a regular basis.

And when they do, we ignore them.

So I did.

But I went to the front window to slowly peek out through the blinds. There were two cars parked on the street. One in front of our house, and one parallel to it across the street in front of our neighbor’s house. One was a Mercedes or Lexus — some sort of luxury vehicle. The other looked like a run of the mill sedan like a Toyota. I couldn’t see anyone around the vehicles.

Interesting.

I walked slowly back into the house to inform my wife of what was going on.

In the midst of that the doorbell rang again, and whoever was ringing the doorbell also knocked on the door fairly loudly.

Hmmm…

Now at this point I’m thinking, obviously, this person really wants to speak with me. Maybe there is something going on in the neighborhood, maybe it is a political canvasser, something like that.

I open the door and poke my head out. I’m careful to not leave the door hanging open and to not provide too much of a look into the house. More on this in a moment.

I am greeted by an older gentleman, maybe in his 50s, with a gray and well-kept beard, and a balded head with more gray hair on the sides. He’s wearing a turtleneck and slacks; he stands in front of the door in the middle.

Behind him stand a man and a woman in casual clothing. They’re standing behind him, off of our front stoop, about 8 to 10 feet from the door. They’re standing apart from each other, and each is visible over the first man’s shoulders (one on each side, obviously). They look to be middle aged, and the woman is wearing rather large, older looking glasses.

The man says he has tried calling my agent multiple times and hasn’t gotten in touch with her. He says he has some clients in from Minnesota that would like to see our house. I wave at them; they wave back. He wants to know if they can see it right now.

Excuse me?

I ask if him they can come back later this afternoon. He says no, they’d like to see it now. I tell him that’s not possible and that we would need a little bit of time. He says they don’t have time to wait, and they leave.

I close and lock the door, then begin pondering what just happened.

Stupidly enough I didn’t then walk back to the front blinds to watch where these cars went. Instead I went back into the house to tell my wife what just happened.

Red Flags

I am instantly suspicious of what I just experienced. We call our agent to see if she had received any calls, but she doesn’t pick up. We leave her a message.

She calls back about 20 minutes later and we explain the situation to her. She says she hasn’t received any calls. She calls her office (which does showing scheduling), and they haven’t received any calls about our house either. Our agent’s cell and home office number are on the home information sheets.

So the man told me he called the agent multiple times. The agent is saying she has no missed calls and hasn’t talked to anyone.

Another red flag: the agent never gave his name, and never handed me a business card.

If he really wanted to show the house it would make sense to hand me a card in case I changed my mind as soon as the door shut behind me. Instead he is able to walk away without having given any of his personal information to me. I have no names, no numbers, nothing except what these people look like and what color the cars were.

Our agent also lets us know that toward the beginning of the year there were some robberies in listed houses. Great. Exactly what I want to hear. This group may have been trying to get inside our house to scope it out to rob us at a later date.

Uninvited Strangers Stay Outside

If I invite you over to myself or am expecting you to arrive I will gladly throw open the door and greet you warmly.

If you are an uninvited stranger, a door to door salesman, or even a delivery driver… you do not come into my house.

This story is the perfect example of why we do this. A salesperson may try to push their way into your home not only to make you uncomfortable enough to buy something just to get them out, but they might not exactly be on the up and up and be willing to take a look around at your nice belongings.

As I mentioned I try to give as little glimpse inside our home as possible when I open the door. I don’t swing it wide open — it could be seen as an invitation to come in or simply give a better view of what’s inside. I crack the door open, and I step outside. I control the situation.

This may all seem paranoid to all of you, and that’s fine. But I was curious if anyone had had something like this happen to them. Is this just an aggressive tactic by a real estate agent? Is he just trying to get his client in the home and make a quick offer in person in hopes that through some sort of pressure we’ll accept a lowball price?

Or is it something much more troubling?

Leave your thoughts on this in the comments. I really appreciate it.

{ 23 comments }

Lakita | Personal Finance Journey October 18, 2010 at 8:12 am

Wow, thanks for sharing this! You’ll probably never know is this was innocent or they had malicious intentions, but it certainly sounds fishy and I’m with you….err on the side of caution!

I had a couple strange occurrences this month:

– I was washing dishes and I saw a man walking through our backyard. He had on an orange vest and was looking for a meter. I went to my back door and without opening asked if I could help him. He said he was from the cable company…and I asked to see some ID which he held up to the window. Apparently he was there to check the box….but I got no call from the cable company. He seemed legit. I didn’t follow up with the cable company….maybe I should have. But I also didn’t open my door.

– Last week someone knocked on my door. It was a young guy with a “home improvement” flyer. Some totally unsolicited pitch. I told him no thank you through the locked door. He offered to leave the flyer on the porch which I told him was his choice.

We need to stay vigilant!
Thanks again for sharing your story.
Lakita

Kevin October 20, 2010 at 7:26 pm

Thanks for stopping by! We had a security company have someone come by in the middle of winter when it gets dark at 5pm to try and sell us service. And this is in a neighborhood with “no soliciting” signs. Irk!

NeighborwatchShrewdPitBull January 22, 2013 at 7:36 pm

A “security” company, rarily solicits because security is a service that the consumer knows whether they need it or not. Security services would know NOT to present themselves in that way because they are the ones to teach us as consumers not to allow anyone in our homes or to present themselves in this manner. Chances are, THEY were up to no good either. ADT or Xfinity NEVER solicits in person like that. At&T are idiots and yes, they DO solicit upper class neighborhoods in a bold fashion, like selling toilet brushes or something. WHo has ever heard of soliciting for phone service or security. Particularly if they BY pass the sign in this way.

Chris Gagner @ SmartPF.com October 18, 2010 at 10:16 am

Thanks for the warning. I don’t know what they were up to, but it does sound suspicious. It’s sad that we have to be overly-secure these days, but it seems like there’s enough people trying to scam that you don’t know who to trust and not trust.

It’s better to play it safe when it comes to the security of your home and family.

Kevin October 20, 2010 at 7:26 pm

It really is sad. I’d love to be more trusting, but that’s a real easy way to get burned.

First Gen American October 18, 2010 at 2:49 pm

In our area, there were some thieves that were stealing things (mostly jewelry) DURING open houses. My husband also doesn’t like putting ads on Craiglist about free stuff (especially electronics) because it’s a sign that you just got a new something or other. He said if I were a criminal and you were giving away your old computer, I’m pretty sure you just got a new one.

I just hired a painter for the first time. We almost never use contractors. It did feel weird handing over a stranger a deposit when I’d never met him before. I did ask to see his license, and he gave me a list of references, but you do put a lot of trust in people that you let into your home.

Was the pushy guy a foreigner? Certain cultures are more pushy than Americans if you can believe it. (Eastern Europeans being one of them)

Kevin October 20, 2010 at 7:27 pm

Huh, I hadn’t thought about the Craigslist and the electronics. That’s a great point.

Did you use a service to find the contractor, or just off of recommendations?

The pushy guy looked like your average American as far as I could tell.

First Gen American October 21, 2010 at 3:52 am

I just put an ad in the help wanted section with how much I was willing to pay. I got a ton of calls. I figure it’s a way to weed out the contractors who are too busy and never even bother to return your phone call.

The guy low balled me and then tried to get more work at a much higher price. It was a clever tactic, but I didn’t fall for it. He’s still on the hook for the low ball work though.

NeighborwatchShrewdPitBull January 22, 2013 at 7:27 pm

Who cares what some one “LOOKS” like.This is what gets people into trouble. The Average American does not act right any more. Nor is thinking clearly. Even if YOU showed up to our door, the police officer would right there behind you. Looks do not figure into this any longer when it comes to our home. You need to watch Investigative Discovery Channel for awhile to understand what we are saying here. I will not “relax” on that subject. “good old , “average” tends to have a criminal records these days.

Forest Parks October 19, 2010 at 5:49 am

Darn that is a scary thought! When I shared a house I never liked having new people round to look at rooms if we needed a new room mate.

Kevin October 20, 2010 at 7:28 pm

Yea, it’s just a weird feeling in general trying to sell a house. Random people walking around in your residence…

NeighborwatchShrewdPitBull January 22, 2013 at 7:31 pm

“Weird”? It’s down right not wise nor safe. If a storage facility can steal our things and look in our face and said that they did not do it, how on earth can we allow any one into our realm ever again. If we do not know you, you don’t come in. If ANY ONE is that anxious to get into your home, and YOU reside there, actively on a daily basis, then, this is a problem. Folks simply need to cool their heels and knock off this anxious crap about getting into our homes uninvited. That’s that. When you are around another 15 years, then you will KNOW what we are talking about. When you are in your mid 40s and 50s, then you wil know why this subject is so hot.

Golfing Girl October 19, 2010 at 6:18 am

Always trust your gut–it is almost always right. It was rude of the so-called agent to do a “drop by” which he obviously did, and he lied to you, to boot, as your agent confirmed. Even if he was legit, he is a liar or is too dumb to dial the right number. Either way, he didn’t deserve a look into your house.
As for me, now that I’m home full time with the new baby, I have to deal with this more often. I have a “Baby is sleeping, please don’t ring bell” sign by the entry that I use often. And we have a storm door that locks, so I can always open my door without allowing unlocked access. I often leave our door open, with the storm door locked so that it’s obvious someone is home to deter would be burglars.
And I have wonderful relationships with all my neighbors so we notify one another if we’re going to be gone so we can keep an eye out and often collect newspapers and mail so there are no signs that someone is absent.
The only people who enter my home are invited guests or expected service people who I’ve scheduled.

Kevin October 20, 2010 at 7:34 pm

The only way he couldn’t have been lying was if her cellphone was off. Then it wouldn’t register any missed calls. If he never left a message then, well, he’s an idiot. Why would you just sit out there and hit redial over and over without leaving a message or calling their office?

NeighborwatchShrewdPitBull January 22, 2013 at 7:22 pm

“The only people who enter my home are invited guests or expected service people who I’ve scheduled.”

And this clears up the entire matter.

Mary October 22, 2010 at 9:09 pm

We don’t answer our phone or open the door to anyone we don’t know. We aren’t paranoid – we just don’t like being bothered.

Gone are the days where your neighbor’s kid comes over to sell you a candy bar – now it’s kids from outside the area with a car following them down the street – um, no thanks. Wouldn’t eat the candy bar even if it wasn’t overpriced and I did know you, sorry!

I have a religion that I’m happy with, you feel free to share yours with whomever but I prefer that it’s not me, so I won’t be answering the door to you, either.

I have a vacuum, do not need new windows, and if you come in my yard and my Lab bites you…well, that’s why my gate has a “beware of dog” sign on it.

A year or two ago I looked out the window and two guys were scanning my yard with instruments. I quickly closed off the dog door so the dog couldn’t get out, and I asked them what they were doing. Oh, we’re training a new person how to find the gas line…I said, did you happen to see the large dog house and the “beware of dog” signs? He answered, “oh, we saw them but the house didn’t look all that big…” So I very politely explained that my dog had, in the past, bitten a person who walked up to my fence (which was 30 feet back into the property for a reason, folks – it’s not like someone walking down the sidewalk was going to have to deal with my usually laid-back Lab, but when this guy approached, my dog guarded, and the guy was lightly bit in the hand – then he threatened to sue me because of it!) Anyway, I said, “Do you think it’s a good idea to enter a posted yard? It’s not only trespassing, but it’s not too smart.” They just stared at me! I said, I’ll need a business card from you so that I can call your supervisor to complain…” Never saw two people move so fast in my life!!! Thankfully they never came back.

It’s just the safer bet to not acknowledge someone you don’t know at your door – and if they are in your yard without your permission, they should be shown the way off your property.

NeighborwatchShrewdPitBull January 22, 2013 at 7:18 pm

Oh, we must be from the same blood line Mary, I do not understand why folks today simply believe that they own the world to come up to our yards and doors which clearly read “No Trespassing”. See , when that sign is up, then, it is at the person’s risk to simply keep going and risk being shot at. There is too much going on in society and the same damned dumb stupid people are so quick to become litigious, that they cannot even bother to read signs any more. Hurrah, to your Lab, that is what he is there for. We will be looking to add a Pit to our family, since some folks have become largely deficit in their ability to read signs or to stroll right on into the privacy of others. They will learn when that hand ends up near a mail box or when the 30 odd ends up in their rear end the next time.

Lisa Morosky October 23, 2010 at 2:33 pm

As a woman, I have zero problem being guarded when people I don’t know are hovering around my house (whether it be solicitors, people doing work for us, delivery men, whatever). I do like you do and simply crack the door, or don’t answer it at all (even if they hear me walk up to the door, look at them through the peephole, and walk away). If they see it as rude, so be it. I see it as being cautious and being careful with who I give access to my house. If my husband is home (and we arrange it so that he is always home when needed for cable installation, etc), he always answers the door and speaks with people.

It is sad that that’s how it is, but the other option (blissful ignorance then potentially getting into a bad situation) isn’t a good one.

Your situation sounds totally shady, honestly. If you’re really worried about it, you might follow up with other people in your area who have homes for sale and see if anything weird has been happening to them.

NeighborwatchShrewdPitBull January 22, 2013 at 7:01 pm

I would not even crack the door. As you do not know WHO it is standing behind the person. If you do not invite them, do not answer the door. If the person claims to be in trouble and needs to use your phone, call the police for them and call your neighbors. Never give access to your home. If folks are so interested in “purchasing” your home, then, they will act in a manner in which all are aware, the agent (IF they have any sense or wisdom). You cannnot count on how other people will use the better judgement. People are way to naive today. Demand to show ID and write it down. If you cannot go and visit celebrities or dignitaries with out showing ID or verifying their presence, then the same ought to apply to your lives. Aren’t you just as valuable. We cannot just walk into the houses of others with out showing Identification or representing themselves just as they would want to be treated. Most of us can’t even meet with your mayor with out security (we can’t simply come into their homes, for any reason). We are so willing to protect our junk, but not ourselves. We have all sort of alarm systems for our cars, computers, for things that are inanimate, but dare we not protect ourselves in the parking lots, or wherever we go or where ever we live. I am tired of hearing cops arrogantly touting that ” so- and so was at the wrong place at the wrong time”. Cops are even now saying this about victims being at the wrong place at the wrong time even in your own home. Yes, we have heard this being said dozens of times. Police officers have been saying the dumbest things like, “in order for us to apprehend a criminal, we have to see the crime in progress” are they kidding us here? As long as they take to get to the location? NO. We have answering machines in order not to answer the phone or to screen our calls. Why can’t we screen our lives as well?

Petunia October 28, 2010 at 11:55 am

Do you think it is possible the uninvited realtor had called, your agent didn’t get back to him, and lied about it? If all of that were true, then her failure to respond cost you a showing. (Her motivation to lie.)

NeighborwatchShrewdPitBull January 22, 2013 at 7:08 pm

All the more reason not to trust any one. It is not likely any way being the case. All agreements should be clear. It should not be that difficult to make the connection to call first, get ID, come correctly to the home of another, or they don’t get in. It is better to either not live in the home or make certain that some one else that you can count on, is there to witness any showings of your home. If folks cannot do that, then, they should not be allowed in your home, at all, for any reasons. Americans really need to be more dilligent about their surrounding regardless of the race or appearance of the situation. There is so much on the subject about personal safety and victimology and criminology. Even the international community KNOWS not to be so naive about these things. Better yet, get a hotel latch for your door so that you can prevent any “force ins” of your door. You cannot know what is on the mind of others, even those that we once trust as a “trusted business” . Extend caution where ever you are. The cost is little to take the extra precaution. There is only one YOU.

Kris May 15, 2012 at 6:31 am

I would never allow strangers in my house at all !

NeighborwatchShrewdPitBull January 22, 2013 at 6:37 pm

We have been given ridiculous answers about this issue and a police officer suggested a very unwise tip. The officer said that we should ask what the strangers want from the other side of the door OR to open the door. We are retired and disabled. We are going through a bizarre housing issue where we are trying to purchase our home and we live IN the home that we are trying to purchase due to the owners ignorance and greed to drop the ball in properly dealing with the lender. Now the lender is a unethical bank which has treated us poorly and has ignored all laws regarding protected class individuals, veterans, and those who have natural rights as human beings. The original owner and ourselves signed an agreement to live in this home until the middle of 2014. We signed a 2 year lease agreement (requested by us) so that by 2014 , we could purchase this home from the owner. Because of the pounding on our door, attempted break-ins and going through our mail box, passing our our private information (by the bank). We did not sign th agreement with the bank to begin with and the bank has full knowledge that we are now being pressured to purchase this home NOW because they have and others have taken photos of our home, our car our bed room windows, our security set up and has passed around our unpublished number with out our authorization. By law, and this was enforced to the bank, they are to abide by the lease agreement made with the original owner. We are paying 3 times the amount to the bank (that the owner charged us–when by HIS agreement with the bank that he was only to pay 380/month—he charges US 3 times the amount as the original owner and as having had his name on this property as the investor). The owner lied to us and the bank. The bank claims that we are innocent of HIS actions but has continued to mistreat US when we have brought in an attorney (who is also lame) to be cooperative in paying monies to them which should be the 380/month but is the amount that we paid to the owner. This is a huge mess and now we are being inudated by strangers never revealing their identity, changing their license plates with other vehicles, using cars described in this article. Wearing baseball hats and keeping their heads lowered against the camera, using rental cars, wearing black sunglasses, wearing black caps on their heads, dressing alike so that their identity is difficult to describe to the police officer. Blocking our cars in the drive way, refusing to provide identitifcation or show their business cards, refusing to contact our attorney to identify themselves , claiming that they are “from the bank” never knowing who we are or what the new agreement is. Hell NO we will not let any one in. This behavior is so antiAmerican, particularly to a veteran who has served 12 years to this country. We have never seen such greediness, such ugly behavior even to the point of hatred in their stances and in their eyes. This is no exaggeration, we have no need or motive to exaggerate or to behave “paranoid”. It is foolish to open your door to anyone you have not invited or expected nor to anyone that YOU DO NOT KNOW. Who cares if this is about “real estate”. If it is, then they should operate in a business like manner, state their business, show their ID and if they are legitimate, they should have no problem showing their ID.Real estate agents use tactics which are unethical and they are not trust worthy. We have lost significant respect for them. This is a very low class profession if they have to stoop so low as to not follow guidelines or to help the residents or to bridge respect. Most agents are getting themselves and others killed because of this behavior. They are so greedy, that they do not care who they are dealing with. THEY do not even know the people that they are showing the homes to, for all they know, the identity that the “prospective buyer” is using is fraudulent, just because they are pre-qualified does not mean anything. Anyone can use someone else’s identity and become pre-qualified. The real estate agents are drunk and high on getting that commission even at the risk of their own lives or others and we will not place ourselves in that position. This is an excellent article to have on hand because folks any more are too simple minded and think that they live in a fairy kingdom when we live in a world with angry folks who are broke, who have been treated badly, who have nothing to lose in their mind…we cannot risk that just to be “cooperative” or “nice” or to care who thinks we are paranoid. Who gives a d***ned if whoever believes that we are paranoid. If the airport scans your butt at the airlines, it means to all of us that we do not live in a world that can chance the lives of others so as to not appear paranoid. Which is it America, most of you follow FOX news and others follow Investigative Discovery Channel (watch this channel and you’ll think twice about letting some one you do not know in your home). As stringent as the rules as the airport may be, so, America needs to take the same precautions at home. Why do we as Americans act so surprised when we hear of crimes happening to others? Why are we going back wards when we ought to know this. Didn’t your parents teach you not to open the door for strangers, let alone speak to strangers or go into their homes or get into their cars? Do you not tell your kids not to eat food from strangers during Halloween? Why are folks so confused about this? Has anyone read the news OR are we too concerned over Justin Bieber’s career? Are we so into FaceBook and Snooki and woo woo? What is the matter with folks? Hell no! If the public wages cameras and special protocols to protect their own malls and stores? Do we carry cellphones to text about the last time we have gone to the potty or do we carry them for safety reasons? Wake up America and watch what is happening. You cannot trust anyone BUT Christ Jesus. If America is applying the extra safety precautions to their airplanes and sending our people to secure our borders, then it must mean that we have something to protect or to be more aware of. We will never live in the time where you are to leave your doors open ever! If you do, you are being foolish. Yes, live your lives, but act wisely. Why do you think ADT and Xfinity have gone through the roof in security sales? Why do you have alarms for your cars and for your kids. THINK! Safety first regardless of what anyone else says for you to do or what they call you. They do not live your life. Only YOU know what YOU ought to do and no one else. USE WISDOM and stop recessing to infantile beliefs. This is the world we live in. Mother Goose does not live here.

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