12 NEWS DEFENDERS: Beware of door-to-door sales - WBRC FOX6 News - Birmingham, AL

12 NEWS DEFENDERS: Beware of door-to-door sales

Erin Schovel Turnham told her story to WSFA 12 News Anchor Mark Bullock. Erin Schovel Turnham told her story to WSFA 12 News Anchor Mark Bullock.

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - It was once a common business model, but today it's rare to find someone selling things door to door. And that's one reason a women in an east Montgomery neighborhood was skeptical when she heard a knock on her door. She shared her story with us so we could warn you.

When Erin Schovel Turnham answered her front door, a young man asked her if she was interested in buying a magazine subscription.

"He was very charming," she said. "Well dressed."

She says the man told her that by purchasing magazines, she would help him earn points with a charity called Fresh Start Opportunities.

"It was a program for people who had had a little trouble in their lives get back on track," she explained.

Erin lives in an east Montgomery neighborhood off Vaughn Road. But her subdivision isn't the only one that has been targeted by this group. Local law enforcement officers say they've gotten numerous complains about it. And consumer groups say Fresh Start Opportunities is not a legitimate charity.

The Better Business Bureau's Michele Mason says door-to-door scams are big business for thieves. And the number of complaints is rising.

"The areas we see the most would be sales of magazines or books, cleaning supplies, and alarm systems," Mason warned.

When Erin thought about the magazine deal, she said "something just didn't add up." So she didn't make a purchase. And after doing research online, she's glad she didn't.

Doing your research is important. Experts suggest asking door-to-door salesmen for a business card, telling them you'll call them back after you learn more about their company.

When WSFA 12 News researched Fresh Start Opportunities, we learned the same company has also gone under the names "New Image Consultants" and "Destiny Sales, Inc."

We also learned the owners of the company were recently indicted on fraud charges. They have been accused of defrauding at least 21,000 people of more than $2 million nationwide.

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