Edgeville Buzz

Solicitors In Edgeville Make Their Pitch

imagesAs the weather warms up, solicitors on Edgeville’s streets will start delivering their pitches and asking you for money.

You might encounter these solicitors while running errands on Clark Street on a warm day, or find them ringing your doorbell at the most annoying times. The solicitors I refer to in this post are those who claim to represent a not-for-profit. Some represent a legitimate not-for-profit, while others are outright scams. There is no doubt that separating the wheat from the chaff is hard enough.

Anyone approached by a street solicitor — whether on the street or at your home or business in the City of Chicago — should know that each solicitor seeking donations must have a valid, non-expired, permit and do the following:

Display on his person a tag or card no smaller than two inches by four inches, indicating the name of the organization to which the permit is issued (a fax of the tag or card is OK); and wear a reflective vest at all times while soliciting on city streets.

Do the solicitors you encounter on the streets of Edgeville comply with these requirements?

Recently, some of the solicitors seen in Edgeville include alleged representatives of a public utility board that claim they will save you money compared with your current utility provider. They seem friendly enough and will often ask to see your current utility bill. It should go without saying that you should never let a stranger view your utility bill (or any other document with your personal information) or allow a stranger into your home.

Another contingent of solicitors seen in Edgeville is made up of youths who claim to be raising money for athletic or educational programs for inner city youth. This contingent, often seen on my street in Edgewater Glen, claims that you can purchase a subscription to the Tribune from the solicitor and the Tribune will make a donation to the charity. Interestingly, this alleged charity came to our door no less than four times in 2013. We fell for it the first time and then got smarter by the second visit. On the second visit, I asked for the young girl’s solicitor permit. She said her group leader had one permit for all of them. Then I asked for information such as a pamphlet or website for her charity. She started to lose interest in me at that point. I never donated to them again despite their continued visits to our door.

It has been no surprise that some of these solicitors have used the ruse of solicitation to distract a homeowner at the front door while one of their partners-in-crime scopes out an alternate entry into the home. Solicitors rely on the kindness of our neighbors and every time we give, they are encouraged to come back and ask for more. Clearly, there is nothing wrong with giving. In fact, I personally believe that every citizen should give to charity if able to do so. Person-to-person and door-to-door solicitation, however, is solicitation by ambush. It’s unfair and invasive.

The U.S.. Supreme Court has consistently held that solicitation is a recognized form of speech protected by the First Amendment. This is why local cities cannot ban the practice or adopt laws that are unduly burdensome on the soliciting

As you go about enjoying the improving weather, keep a few things in mind when dealing with solicitors:

  • Each time you give them money, you encourage them to come back to the location where you donated;
  • You don’t know if they are legitimate or a scam;
  • Always ask for their credentials and don’t allow yourself to be pressured into a donation;
  • Request a brochure or a website where you can obtain information about the charity;
  • Consider making a donation online after you have checked out the organization;
  • Never let a solicitor in your home or allow yourself to be distracted by a solicitor at your front door so as to put yourself and those in your home at risk;
  • Never give out personal information pertaining to your credit cards, bank accounts, utility accounts, or other sensitive account information;
  • Purchase and display a sign telling solicitors they are not welcome at your home;
  • If you are concerned about a solicitor, call the police immediately.

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