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Denver streets are filled with canvassers

Photo Credit: Erica Barillari · The Sentry

A guide on how to keep safe 

While walking the streets of Denver, and even on the Auraria campus, canvassers tend to be posted out with tablets at the ready on different sidewalks asking for signatures and donations. The causes vary, but the idea is the same. While their petitioning can be a good thing, it can also be dangerous. 

In some cases, scam artists and con people will dress up in a canvasser’s attire to take advantage of unsuspecting citizens. This exact thing happened on Feb. 19, in Bugis Junction in Singapore, where criminals claimed they were with the Singapore Heart Foundation (SHF) to gain money. Consequently, they ended up running away and pocketing the money before the police arrived. After the incident, the Chief Executive Officer made clear that they had not hired any volunteers to raise money at that time nor place.

Other times the canvasser will ask others to sign petitions, but it’s possible that they don’t know completely what the signatures are for, or they are misleading the listener. Take for example on Feb. 5 at Portland State University; there were signature gatherers that said that they were supporting immigration sanctuary rights, but it turned out to be the exact opposite of what they claimed.

While not all canvassers are malicious, here are tips for students to keep safe while in Denver. 

If you are unsure of a canvassers intent, avoiding eye contact and continuing to walk is one of the most effective ways of dealing with canvassers because it removes the possibility of interaction. Excuses are also helpful to explain why there isn’t time to talk, such as class is about to start or a friend is waiting to meet up.

However, aversion isn’t always possible. It is best to explain to the canvasser that more research of the cause is needed. As said by Professor Dana Fisher, a sociologist and a professor of sociology, on NPR, “They’re given a very limited amount of information about whatever campaign they’re working on, so what ends up happening is they have a specific script. It takes maybe two minutes to get through it. But if you start to then ask questions about the campaign, in many cases, they won’t be able to answer many details about it, because they don’t know very much.” 

While donating is never a bad thing, reading up on the causes is important because someone’s hard-earned money is going to these organizations. This will help with deciding if a cause is worthy of donating to or if it is worth signing a petition for.

However, that money can be given straight to the organization via a verified website instead of having it pass through many people’s hands. So as a rule of thumb, it is never a good idea to give out credit card information to strangers. As an alternative, look for organization sites that have the option to use PayPal so that everything remains private. 

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