In some cases, solicitors will be dropped from downtown Los Angeles into the city to work Glendale neighborhoods, seeking money for products that they won't deliver or charities that they do not represent, Gilkerson said.
Some solicitors, he said, do not have city-issued permits and are soliciting under false pretenses. People who are soliciting fraudulently may also look for opportunities to burglarize unattended homes and vehicles.
Going door to door to solicit is legal, but those who leave fliers at home doorsteps or vehicles must obtain a permit from the city clerk's office, Gilkerson said.
Nonprofit and religious organizations can distribute pamphlets in the city without a permit, but can't sell products or seek donations, he added.
All permit applications submitted to the city clerk's office go through an extensive background check to ensure solicitors who go door to door don't have a criminal history, City Clerk Ardy Kassakhian said.
"We take this very seriously to ensure the safety of our residents," he said.
Some establishments that have been in the city for many years are not required to go through the permitting process to distribute materials, Kassakhian added.
His office has received calls in the past from residents concerned about door-to-door solicitors, he said.
The best way to ensure a solicitor is legitimate is ask to see a copy of the permit and identification, officials said.
Kassakhian also suggested residents research a solicitor's product or organization on the Internet before buying an item or making a contribution.