Home security system scams have been on the rise since 2018 — and every type of homeowner is a target. Warmer weather means an increase in salespeople who travel door-to-door, making unsolicited “cold calls” on homeowners, trying to convince them that they need home security systems.
In fact, some deceitful security salespeople seek out homes with security signs on the front lawn. So, how can you avoid falling victim? Look for the red flags to learn how to stop these scams.
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Deceptive Sales Tactics
One of the key indicators that you are dealing with a potential security system scam is the way the offer is presented. If the salesperson is pressuring you for an immediate decision – saying things like, “this sale is only good for a day,” or, “you have to make a decision before I leave” – you might be dealing with a scam. A legitimate salesperson will be willing to come back later, and they will have no issues giving you their name, phone number, company website, and/or business card. If they will not offer you time to do your research, compare prices and discuss your decision with other members of your family, chances are you aren’t dealing with a legitimate security company.
When You Already Have a Security System
If you are already protected by a home security system, it is easy to tell what company provides your current system. You might have stickers displayed on your doors or windows, a sign in your yard, or equipment in or outside the home. All of these are targets for home security fraud. In these cases, a scammer might misrepresent that they work for your current security company and insist that they are visiting your home to help take care of your account and continue your service, or they will claim that they need to replace your equipment with new equipment. Other scammers will come into your home, look at your existing equipment, and suggest that it is not adequate to protect against the latest threats against your home and property. They will talk about the reasons you need to upgrade your system, then offer you a “bargain” for that upgrade. If you let them replace your service or equipment, the trade-off might be lower-quality coverage and protection at an inflated price.
If you are in the market for a home security system, do your research! As a rule of thumb, it is smart to avoid making impulse purchases from any unsolicited door-to-door sales call. Take your time and make the right decision. A legitimate security company, like Bates, will NEVER send someone to your door unannounced. Bates Security will send you a Profile Sheet of the team member who will be assisting you in advance, as well as will have Bates Security branded vehicles, uniforms and business cards. If we need to do maintenance or upgrades, we will call you first and make an appointment. If the workers show up without warning, you can assume they are not legit.
Going Out of Business Scams
In this security system scam, a salesperson will claim that they’ve taken over your contract or your existing provider went out of business. The main goal is to get you to buy new equipment and/or sign a new contract, even though you’re already paying for a different contract with a different company. If your home security company is truly going out of business, you’ll know it. They’ll notify you via mail, telephone, or email — and they certainly won’t send someone to your door.
Fake Websites and Email Accounts
Some scammers use fake websites and bogus email accounts to collect confidential information. It will look like they’re selling home security systems, but they’ll disappear with your money. If a website only accepts money transfers, it’s probably a scam. Legitimate security system companies accept credit cards, and sales reps will never contact you with a throwaway email account like Gmail or Yahoo.
Read the Contract
Always read the fine print on your contract, even if that means you must request a print copy. According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), your security system contract should include:
- Installation price
- Professional monitoring fees (annually, quarterly, or monthly)
- Contract period
- Discounts and deals
- Written warranty
- Security system owner’s manual
- Cancellation terms
- Two copies of cancellation forms (one for you and one to mail back to them)
Utilize the FTC’s Cooling-Off Rule
The FTC gives you three business days to cancel a deal if you signed a contract anywhere that’s not the seller’s permanent place of business. In other words, if a door-to-door salesperson pressured you into a new contract you don’t want, you’ve got 72 hours to raise the alarm. Use the cancellation forms in your contract.