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People to People Ambassadors coming door-to-door. Legit?

Original post made by Paul, Rex Manor, on Jan 12, 2010

My wife and I just had two college-age kids knock on our door and claim they were from the People to People Ambassador program, that they were raising money for trips to Paris and London trips by selling magazines -- and the whole pitch raised the hair on the back of my neck.

What are these kids doing? Should we be concerned? Are they staking out our houses? What kind of legitimate organization sends young people out at dusk to sell magazines? I'd be interested to hear what others say (and whether we should call the police).

Here's what our experience was with the young man and young woman who came to our door at about 4:30 p.m. today:

First, they claimed to be "Neighbors" and referred to people we had never heard of from a nearby street.

Second, they said they were being evaluated on their public speaking abilities, and that their parents would be by shortly to check that they had done a good job. No parents have since appeared. There was a reference to the dad being "buff" -- I don't know if that was an attempt to scare us.

Third, they said they were San Francisco State students, but that this wasn't an SFSU program.

Fourth, they eventually got around to the fact that they were selling magazines to fund a trip.

After they left, I looked up the People to People Ambassadors program. Turns out it's a real thing (although if you look it up with the word "scam" you'll get a dizzying array of interesting results. When I called the organization, the woman who answered the phone said that, yes, sometimes students in their program went to door-to-door to fundraise but they generally did not have college students in their programs.

The guy was a very smooth, fast talker, quick to whip out his wallet and show his ID. When I asked if I could photograph it, he snapped it shut and walked away.

If they're legit, I'm sorry that I responded with as much suspicion as I did, but we know of a woman in Menlo Park who was raped a few years ago by someone going door-to-door selling magazines, and it's easy to imagine people casing the neighborhood -- and your house -- using this door-to-door tactic.

Your thoughts?

Comments (2)

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Posted by sean
a resident of Castro City
on Jan 12, 2010 at 5:47 pm

I think you answered your question all by yourself.

I guess I'm wondering why you would even open the door and talk to people you don't know. You should be concerned for you safety because, quite bluntly, you are naive.

Like this comment
Posted by USA
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jan 13, 2010 at 10:24 am

USA is a registered user.

People to People Ambassador is a legit organization created by Eisenhower in 1956 to promote international communication. Their sale approach is certainly slimy, though.

The best way to handle the door-to-door and phone sales people is just to say with a smile -- "Thank you, but I am not really interested. Have a good day" then close the door or hang up before they can get in their well-practiced reply.

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