Security Company Scam!!
Unscrupulous security companies use a variety of approaches and pitches to get you to buy an alarm system and monitoring services. Here’s what to look out for:
This is what most security companies really mean.
- They offer a Free system. Normally these systems are inadequate to properly protect your home and the prices to get extra detectors installed is often more than what you should have paid for a complete system to begin with. They may make a time-limited offer, and claim that you need to act now. For example, they may try to get you to sign a contract by telling you that the equipment is “free.” More than likely, strings are attached. For example, to get your “free” alarm, you may have to sign a long-term and expensive system monitoring contract. Like many things in life that sound too good to be true, this is as well.
- They may pressure their way into your home and then refuse to leave. It is not impolite or rude to tell a salesperson you’re not interested. It’s much easier — and safer — to say “no” on the doorstep than to try to get the salesperson to leave once they’re inside. If a salesperson continues to pressure you after you’ve asked them to leave, call the police.
- They use scare tactics. For example, they may talk about a rash of supposed burglaries in your neighborhood.
Some door-to-door sales agents target homeowners who have signs on their properties for security systems with other companies. In these cases:
- The will imply that they are from your existing security company and tell you that they are there to “upgrade” your current system. They will get in and install a new security system and then have you sign a contract that includes $50 to $80 per month in monitoring service and it can be as long as 5 years.
- Sometimes they claim your security company has gone out of business, and they have now taken over the accounts. They will say you have to buy new equipment and sign a new contract. If this happens, call and verify with your current security company. Normally, you would be notified of a change like this by mail, not by an unannounced visit by a salesman from some other firm.
Before you do business with anyone selling a home security or alarm system, whether they come to your door or you seek them out, the FTC and your state Attorney General urge you to ask potential contractors for the following information.
- Contractor’s name
- Street address (no P.O. Box)
- Telephone number
- Contractor’s license number
- State that issued the license
- Name under which the license is filed
Use it to check out the alarm company with the appropriate authorities: your state Attorney General, local consumer protection agency, and state licensing officials. If the salesperson is reluctant to give you this information, find another company!
Remember: The “Free” system is normally inadequate for most homes, and the contract is long term and the monitoring rates are really high. That makes this a far more expensive system than if you purchased it outright. In this case you have paid well more than market rate for what was advertised as “free”.
Here is what you get for free from ADT.
FREE HOME SECURITY SYSTEM – $850 Value (they valued it at that)
Their state-of-the-art system includes:
Front and Back Doors Protected
Infrared Interior Motion Detector
Digital Keypad with Police, Fire, and Medical
Control Panel with Battery Back-up
Lawn Sign and Window Decals
This is a very basic system. Two doors and a motion detector are not going to protect most homes. It might be OK for an apartment or condo.
By the way, if you pay less than $600 for an ADT system, it remains their property. See their terms and conditions page on their website.
Shady sales tactics, cheap security system, and expensive contracts come with these salesmen.
Some salesmen will literally try to scare you into getting their system. They may even show you maps of crimes in your area, and point to statistics that show homes with security systems are safer. If you have kids, they may suggest scenarios of intruders facing your children. And of course they won’t back up these scary claims with anything other than printouts, if that. You will be told that they “chose” your house because of the highly visible location in the neighborhood. They will tell you that they’re letting you have their system hoping that the highly-visible sign will prompt some of my neighbors to sign up for their services. Of course, after they leave, they walk to every house in the neighborhood. Wait – didn’t they just tell you that your house was special?
If you tell them that you want to think about it, they’ll tell you that the offer expires today and you must act now to get their free system. Complete nonsense. If any salesman tells you that the offer expires today, don’t buy from them. Any alarm company that pressures you to “sign up now” is dishonest and should not be trusted.
It’s a bait-and-switch scam. They come to you touting the word “free” and then want you to pay for add ons. Such shady sales tactics only bolster my desire to ignore these fly-by-night home security companies or similar salesmen. As one commenter so eloquently stated:
“So, basically you get a cheap alarm system; they get an expensive alarm monitoring contract.”