The door knocks.
You weren’t expecting anyone, but a few things can happen.
- You simply ignore it, not knowing if it was a visitor you needed to take.
- You answer, only to be bothered by someone selling you cheaper energy, pest control, books, makeup, insurance, etc. You wait and listen to be polite or say you’re not interested, only to be answered with
persistencepushiness, or a knock at your door later that evening.
- You do or don’t answer, and the ‘solicitor’ is really just casing your home, learning your schedule, and seeing if you’re a good target.
Either way, solicitors generally mark an uncomfortable, annoying, or even dangerous moment in your day.
In my neighborhood lately, we’ve had the same pest control company making its way through our community, leaving many moms at a minimum, annoyed, and at most, downright scared. That’s why I wanted to put together some information about solicitors, your rights, and what to do when you’re called upon.
Solicitors, protecting yourself, and the law
what to do when a visitor comes
First things first – get a No Solicitor sign. You can make one, order it online, or pick it up at your Village Hall (0.50 stickers in my town!). It should be at least 3×4 inches and prominently displayed by your main entrance.
The best thing to do is to have a video camera – one that records and has a speaker is best. There are so many affordable options that anyone can install that there’s really no excuse not to have one. Check who it is on camera, and speak through the speaker to say you’re not interested.
what does a no solicitors sign do, anyway?
Having a clearly visible No Solicitors sign means that a registered solicitor must adhere to your wishes and leave your property without contacting you in any way. In my village, IT IS ILLEGAL to solicit at a location with a properly displayed sign. Yup, that’s right, so go ahead and call the police if this happens.
call the police – no, seriously
First, don’t answer the door. Then, per my police department, call 9-1-1 and give as much information as possible. They’ll send someone to your area to scope it out.
The officer I spoke to said if you call the non-emergency line, they’ll just have to connect you to the emergency line; don’t feel funny about calling. It’s, quite literally, better safe than sorry.
What’s great about the door cameras is that they record footage; my sister and I just confirmed that we had the same salesperson at our homes from comparing the footage – the same person who went to her friend’s house 5 times in ONE day/night.
check if solicitor is registered
If you did answer the door or heard about solicitors in your community, you can check out if the company or person is registered to solicit in your town.
**If you live in my town, check it out here at the bottom of the site. And side note: HAWX PEST CONTROL IS CURRENTLY NOT REGISTERED as of 7/7/17**
rules for solicitors
Rules will differ from place-to-place, but there will be similar rules. In my town:
- A legitimate solicitor has to obey a No Solicitor sign
- Can solicit during the hours of 9 a.m. – 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday (and never on Sunday or holidays) *a pretty ridiculously late standard, am I right?!
- Must display their city permit prominently on the outside of their garment. NOTE: this will be different from a company-issued lanyard!!
- Solicitors may not continue to solicit after they’ve been asked to leave
- Cheat, mislead, or deceive you while representing their company
file a complaint
Aside from always calling the police if you have any feelings of danger or not feeling safe in your home, you can file a complaint for aggressive, pushy, or deceptive behavior online or by phone through the Attorney General’s Office. For Illinois, that’s at (800)243-0618.
As stupid as this sounds, as such a friendly person, I often find myself entertaining people in situations where I should avoid them or say yes when I should say no because I want to have faith in people; I want to believe people are good and I want to treat others like I’d like to be treated. If anyone can relate, I urge you to put safety first.
My mom fought off an armed attacker who had her at gunpoint, a man posing as a flower delivery man, when she was first married. She’s raised me to know to always be overly cautious, always fight, yell, run, kick, and make noise – things that might not come naturally to people.
I realize I can still have faith and be kind to people while putting my safety first.