Most people display their address either near their front door or on their mailbox. This way, guests, mail carriers, and anyone else can easily locate their homes. Some people even paint the numbers on their curbs.

Now, police have begun warning homeowners across the country about the dangers of opening their door if they suddenly see their address painted on their curb without requesting such service.

Chances are, someone will knock on your door shortly after, but be warned: you shouldn’t answer it. Here’s why…

For convenience, most homeowners openly display their home address either right next to their front doors, or, at the very least, on their mailboxes. This not only helps delivery men and women locate their homes, but it makes it easier for their guests, too.

In some cases, it’s fairly common for homeowners to even paint their addresses brightly on their curbs. This way, it’s out in the open for all to see, especially when house numbers aren’t visible from the street.

Common as this may be, police are now warning homeowners about a very real danger if you return home and you suddenly see your address painted on your curb when it wasn’t there before. Chances are, someone will soon come knocking on your door, and you’re not going to want to answer it…

“Today I came home early as I am not feeling too well, and noticed all houses except [for a] few have their house number painted [on the curb],” a person who had recently been subjected to this scam wrote on a message board recently.

The homeowner had actually fallen victim to a curb-painting scam that’s been seen in all corners of the United Sates. The scam is pretty straightforward and it’s highly effective. First, the scammer will place a flyer on your door, letting you know that they’ll be painting addresses on curbs in the neighborhood. It warns that, unless you tape the flyer to your curb, they’ll return to paint yours.

This curb-painting may seem harmless, but that’s because the problem hasn’t even begun. Once your address number is painted on the curb, the scammer will arrive to your home and demand that you pay them for the service.

To make themselves appear more legitimate than they are, the scammers will most often act as if they’re representing a city service or an organization that doesn’t actually exist. That’s when innocent people begin forking over their cash.

Even if the homeowners are reluctant to pay, the scammers will continue to try and persuade them. Once rejected, they’ll often place a bill in their mailbox. Then, they’ll come back later to attempt to collect the payment.

Unfortunately, many people will pay up, either because they don’t know any better or they’re afraid they’ll suffer the consequences. “This week they are going around to houses that didn’t leave any money and telling them they want money for what they did,” Chief Gielink of the Mentor-on-the-Lake Police Department in Ohio said.

Now, police officers nationwide are attempting to warn all homeowners that they should not pay for these “services.” “We are here to make sure people know they have no obligation to pay for this,” Chief Gielink warned.

The scam has become so far-spread that many cities are taking to social media to warn their residents of the potential dangers of these scams. In Alpharetta, Georgia, a flyer was placed on homes warning people about the curb-painting scam by showing them what it looks like.

Some towns have even pointed out that the flyers don’t even display a company name or phone number—a clear sign of a scam. The only part of the letter that seemed legitimate was: “[Curb painting] is an important service as the police, fire department, and paramedics look at the curbs first for your address.”

When these flyers were originally passed out, a spokesperson for the city of Alpharetta wrote on Facebook: “Having your address numbers painted on the curb in front of your house is completely unnecessary.” They were also sure to mention that emergency responders knew exactly where else to look for someone’s address.

Police across the country are also letting people know that any company that professionally paints house numbers on curbs would certainly need to receive permission to do so before completing the job.

One reason these scams are popular is that curb-painting can be a fairly lucrative job, with some people earning upwards of $200 in a single day. Prospective scammers therefore have some incentive to try and trick unsuspecting homeowners.

People who do paint curbs professionally have many tasks to complete before they are even able to begin. Most often, they’re required to have a permit, at the very least, and they would have to purchase public liability insurance.

Curb-painting isn’t the only scam that people should be warned about. In fact, another common scam is when people claim to be landscapers, and they operate in the same way as the painters. This scam seems harmless at first, but it’s not.

Several people in Springfield, Missouri, were recently exposed to the dangers of this landscaping scam. “I just paid him and wanted it done,” one victim recalled. “I have no recourse once I hand cash over to somebody.” The job was never completed.

In one scenario, an upset customer attempted to contact the company through the email address they provided on their flyer. When the company responded, however, it was far from pleasant. “He cursed at me. He wrote me horrible emails. He was just a jerk to me,” one person explained.

Now, many of these people are suffering the consequences of falling for these scams. Although it’s hard to know when someone is being deceptive, there are obviously signs to watch out for. Protect yourself, because it can save you in the long run!

How sad is it that these scammers are taking money from innocent people? It’s definitely important to learn the warning signs of a potential scam-in-progress and to take every precaution you can to avoid falling victim.

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