Updated: August 15, 2019
Who Are Solicitors?
A solicitor is any person who goes door-to-door attempting to sell goods to residents.
What Kinds of Things Do Solicitors Typically Sell Door-to-Door?
Most often, solicitors offer tangible goods like windows, doors, or other structural, big ticket items. Or, they offer intangible goods like clean up and repair after a major weather event or insurance policies and other financial instruments.
Is Door-to-Door Soliciting Legal?
Even private property owners may be surprised to learn that door-to-door soliciting actually is legal in the United States. The Supreme Court has ruled that traveling salespeople have a constitutional right to be there, upholding their right to free speech for commercial purposes. States, and even local municipalities, are not allowed to create laws or regulations, for example requiring registration or permits or setting permissible solicitation hours.
How Can I Keep Solicitors From My Home or Business?
While door-to-door soliciting may fall under the constitutional rule of law, one effective way to deter or even stop a solicitor from knocking on your door is by posting “no soliciting signs” or “no trespassing signs” conspicuously on your property. These signs make it known to potential visitors that they are not welcome to infringe on your privacy or trespass on your property.
Neighborhood residents should post signs in windows, on doors, fences, trees, or at property entrance ways. Businesses should post signs at all public and property entrances and in parking lots for all to see.
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Do No Soliciting Signs Really Work?
Yes! “No soliciting” signs are effective in deterring unwelcome guests. By posting these signs, you are exercising your legal right to refuse uninvited visitors and convey your request to not be disturbed. Anyone who refuses to leave can face trespassing charges and/or fines.
Is Anyone Exempt From Following A No Soliciting Sign?
In the US, anyone who refuses to leave your property upon request is breaking the law. While each state is different, many areas impose penalties on those who choose to ignore posted “no soliciting” or “no trespassing” signs on private property, including businesses that post such signage. Even those who are not actually selling a tangible product, such as religious, political, or charitable organizations, are legally required to leave your property upon your verbal or written request.
Can I Be Refunded For A Purchase Made With A Door-to-Door Salesperson?
Even though there are no formal laws prohibiting soliciting, there are laws in place to protect consumers from defective products, fraudulent offers, and scams. Many individual cities or towns require door-to-door salespeople to post a solicitation bond before selling their goods to the masses. This protects the customer in the event that a product or service is faulty or part of a scam; the consumer will be able to claim a portion of these funds proportional to the money he or she lost as a result of the original transaction.
Further, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has instituted a rule that allows anyone who purchases something at his or her home from a door-to-door salesperson (totaling $25 or more) to cancel his or her order and receive a full refund within three days. This rule also applies to purchases made from solicitors at other locations with a purchase price of $130 or more.
Can Homeowner’s Associations Ban Solicitation in Their Neighborhoods?
Typically, homeowner’s associations are not permitted to stop solicitors from visiting individual homes in a neighborhood, since the decision to listen to or purchase from someone is an individual decision. There may be exceptions, though, as when gated communities post “no soliciting” or “no trespassing” signs at the neighborhood entrances. Since rules can widely vary, always be aware of your local directives.
When To Be More Aware Of Door-to-Door Scams
The most popular seasons for solicitors to be out and about are typically during the spring and summer months when the weather is wonderful and many people are home during seasonal breaks. However, additional caution should be used when unforeseen events happen in widespread areas, such as strong storms, hurricanes, tornadoes, or other disasters. Unfortunately, scammers use these catastrophes to take advantage of vulnerable people who are desperately in need of assistance.
Major Storm Alert! Be Aware of Fraudulent Solicitors
Centrally located on Florida’s first coast in Jacksonville, at CustomSigns.com, we know how important proper preparedness is for major tropical storms and hurricanes. Especially in southern coastal states where natural disasters seem to be a common occurrence, preparedness also means educating local residents to be particularly mindful of potential scam artists. These fraudsters, who often show up suddenly and unannounced, offer deeply discounted prices and promise immediate repairs, only to take the homeowner’s deposit and run. In addition to protecting your property with “no soliciting” and “no trespassing” signs, whenever in doubt, always take the time to get the facts. The Better Business Bureau (BBB) is a reputable place to begin, as well as asking for references and verifying professional licenses and insurance. Safety always comes first.