by Joe Robinson

In the past year the number of people coming to our door with clipboards has increased exponentially, claiming great things if we let them see our water heater, our furnace — or even more bold, our natural gas bill. If you haven’t seen the commercials from the government on TV, when someone comes to your door, they must first identify themselves, show a photo ID badge, and name the company for which they are working. They have NO right to come into your home when they say “I must see your water heater”, or “I’m here to make sure you have energy efficient appliances”. By the way, they must also show you a copy of your existing contract in order to continue any conversation with you, and no matter what they say, they are NOT working for the government, for Enbridge Gas, or any other organization except for a rival company.

In a similar vein, be careful when someone calls and states, “We’re from Air Duct Cleaning Services”, or “We’re from Microsoft Support and there is a problem with your computer”, or the best I’ve heard, “We’re from Microsoft Windows”. Microsoft Windows is a software product, not a company or technical support group! There is no real Air Duct Cleaning Services, and CBC’s “Marketplace” did a two-part expose on where these people are calling from (Karachi, to be precise)… then they hire out a fourth-rate company to “clean” your air ducts for an outrageous price. Get on the National Do Not Call List if you haven’t done so already, by going to Then only companies with which you have already dealt can call you. By the way, charities and government organizations are exempt from the No-Call List, and you must renew your No-Call status online every six years. You can extend the time by going on the above website.

The best thing you can do in order to preserve your home, your money and your sanity is not to answer the door when “clipboards” show up to sell you something, especially if you are home alone at the time. If you don’t recognize the phone number on your display when someone calls and you choose to answer it, don’t give out any information — even banks when they phone do not ask for PIN numbers, bank account numbers and the like. Don’t give out any sensitive information on the Internet unless you are on a secure site, know the company well, and are only giving your VISA or Mastercard and NOT your life history.

Change your passwords and PIN numbers regularly, and use passwords that you can remember and that no one else would think to use (i.e., don’t use birthdays, house numbers, 12345678, and other such easy-to-discover passwords). Be careful, and your money, your home, your appliances and your sanity will remain your own!