Each year the Better Business Bureau gets thousands of inquiries from consumers about home security systems. Everyone wants to feel safe in their home and dishonest companies use this knowledge to their advantage. Your BBB has the following advice for homeowners who may become targets of home security system rip-offs.
High-pressure and deceptive sales techniques are the hallmarks of such untruthful companies. Here are some things they may say that should send up red flags of a scam:
• “I’m with (name of your present security company) which has been bought out by (name of some scam company).” They will then ask you to sign a new contract and buy new equipment.
• “I’m with (name of your present security company) and I’m here to upgrade (or “replace”) your alarm system. May I come in?” Do not let them into your home.
• “I wanted to let you know there have been several burglaries in your neighborhood.” They then try to sign you up for their security system network.
• “I have an offer that’s only good for a limited time.” (One of the oldest scammer tricks in the book.)
• “We’re offering free equipment.” (They then sign you up for an expensive system-monitoring contract.)
Any important change regarding your security company will bring notification by mail or a phone call, not by an unannounced visit from a company “representative.” You should never allow an unannounced door-to-door visitor access into your home. Call your security company and ask about any issue that someone brings up to you by knocking on your door. Always verify before trusting a stranger.
When you are shopping for a home security system
These are points to consider:
• Check out the company with the BBB at bbb.org. Do an online search for complaints or issues with the company as well.
• Get references from friends, family or neighbors. Ask how satisfied they have been with the company in question.
• Get written estimates from several companies and ask lots of questions. Be sure you are getting the same type system from each bid for comparison.
• Find out who installs and monitors the system. Is a subcontractor involved?
• Ask if they run a background check on employees prior to hiring.
• Ask what happens if you move or otherwise want to cancel your service.
• Once you have a contract to sign, read it thoroughly before signing anything. Among other things, it should state the installation charge, monitoring charge, contract period, warranty and applicable discounts.
• Check with your homeowner’s insurance company to see if you get a discount for having a security system.
Never give in to high-pressure sales tactics. Take your time and do your research. Remember the old adage: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. For more questions or concerns regarding home security systems, contact the BBB at (800) 856-2417, or visit our website at bbbinc.org.