Canonsburg council members expressed concerns Monday about illegal solicitation and possible scams happening in residential neighborhoods in the borough.
Mayor Dave Rhome said in some cases people go door-to-door, requesting access to people’s homes. Some have been forceful, he said, making residents nervous.
“The word ‘no’ doesn’t seem to be in their vocabulary,” Rhome said. “They’re very pushy and can be very persistent.”
In one recent case reported to Rhome, a man showed up at someone’s house after 10 p.m. and told the resident he needed to look at the home’s electrical power. The man allegedly requested access to the residence, and when the resident refused multiple times, the man said he would get in trouble with his boss.
Rhome said the resident reported the man didn’t have a vehicle or any company identification, and didn’t provide identification or a permit.
“We have to be vigilant for each other,” Rhome said. “They have to have a permit. We’re not trying to keep people out of town. We just want to protect our residents.”
Rhome emphasized if these solicitors do not show identification or prove they have a solicitation permit from the borough, residents should not let them in their homes and should call 911.
Borough regulations require any person or company soliciting in residential neighborhoods – with the exception of certain religious organizations – to have a permit from the borough. The permits, which allow for solicitation between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m., cost $25 per person, per day, according to the borough’s human resources manager, Callie Munch.
The borough’s attorney Joseph Dalfonso said Monday he would take a look at further developing an ordinance that could provide better enforcement opportunities for the borough.
Solicitation isn’t the only means scammers are trying to take advantage of Canonsburg residents.
Police Chief Alex Coghill said recently scammers were able to use a phone number very close to the police department number and somehow get it to show up on caller ID as “Canonsburg Police.”
“They say something like, ‘There’s a warrant for your arrest and we need this much money. If you don’t give us the money we’ll arrest you,’” Coghill said. “But police departments never collect money – that’s a function of the courts.”
Coghill said his department started a new nonemergency complaint form on the department website about two weeks ago. Residents reporting nonemergency situations can fill out the form, which then goes to Coghill’s computer for him to assign.
“This gives residents another avenue to contact the police,” he said. “Residents call here a lot, but sometimes they’re embarrassed to have a police car show up or to use the 911 system for something that’s nonemergency.”
The complaint forms can be found on the department’s Facebook page or on the borough website.