Security Fraud Safety Tips
Beware of Door-to-Door Security Fraud
It’s that time of year again and consumers need to beware of “door-knockers”—companies selling alarm systems door-to-door each summer. They’re often called out by the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and others for complaints for their unscrupulous and aggressive sales tactics, fraudulent claims, and attempting to steal customers away from other alarm companies.
During the summer months concern runs so high that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has issued a warning to consumers—with examples of the types of sales pitches these dealers use along with tips on what you can do to protect yourself. For your safety, we recommend you read the entire FTC warning, however, here are some quick tips on handling a door knocker if you should find one of these salespeople on your doorstep:
- You do not have to let them into your home
- Ask for—and closely inspect—their credentials and identification
- Ask for proof of a city-provided neighborhood solicitation permit
- Ask if the company is local, regional, or national and where they are based
- Do not be misled by false police reports
- Do not be pressured into signing a contract—remember your FTC “right to cancel” a contract within 72 hours if it is signed at your home
- Check with the BBB for company information and reviews
Some fraudulent sales agents target homeowners who have alarm company signs on their properties from other companies:
- They may imply that they are from your own security company and that they’re there to “upgrade” or “replace” your current security system. Once inside your home, however, they may install a new security system and have you sign papers that include a costly contract for the new monitoring service—often leaving you with two monthly security monitoring bills.
- They may claim your security company has gone out of business, that they’ve taken over the accounts and that you have to buy new equipment and sign new contracts. If you hear this, call your current monitoring company to confirm. Any reputable alarm company would notify you of a change like this by mail or telephone.
What You Can Do
- Check out the company by entering the company name into a search engine online. Read about other people’s experiences. In addition, contact your state Attorney General (www.naag.org), local consumer protection agency (www.consumeraction.gov), and the Better Business Bureau (www.bbb.org) to see if any complaints are on file.
- Understand that you can always cancel the deal. The FTC’s Cooling-Off Rule gives you 3 business days to cancel any deal if you sign the contract in your home or at a location that is not the seller’s permanent place of business. You do not have to give a reason for canceling your purchase. You have a right to change your mind, even if the equipment has already been installed.
If you’re interested in a new system or in upgrading and existing system, call a reputable security company such as Protection 1 to ensure you are dealing with a professional organization that is not out to defraud you and your neighbors for a quick buck. Protection 1 offers residential, commercial and national account solutions. For pricing and packages, go to www.protection1.com or call 877-PRO1-911.