Several months ago, we created a post detailing Important Questions to Ask Security System Providers. We provided that post in part because shopping for security systems can prove uniquely stressful. Many alarm companies use fear tactics and shady business models to pressure customers into doing business with them. In some cases, the services customers signed up for are not even provided. In other instances, customers may receive an alarm system that comes with unexpected complications or poor service. For example, some companies lock customers into long-term contracts without disclosing it. Other companies may misrepresent their identity to trick customers into switching alarm service providers. In this post, we share some valuable tips to help you avoid these and other security system scams.
We’ll begin by discussing what to do if an alarm technician or salesman shows up at your door unexpectedly. From there, we’ll discuss how to spot when an alarm company advertises their services dishonestly. We will also examine some of the ways alarm companies gain long-term financial commitments, and what that could mean for you. Finally, we will look at making smart security system choices. This involves properly vetting alarm companies, and taking the time required to make an informed decision. Let’s dive into our first tip on recognizing and avoiding security system scams.
Call Your Security Provider if an Alarm Company Employee Shows Up Unannounced
Many of the security system scams we will discuss here affect those who do not yet have an alarm system. However, our first area of focus mainly affects existing alarm owners. Some of these scams, such as the one detailed by this Inside Edition study, target existing alarm customers. In this scam, alarm system employees claim to work for a homeowner’s existing alarm company. These employees offer a security system “upgrade” from to the system currently in place. After the homeowners sign the paperwork involved, the sales representative’s company comes out and installs their security system in the customer’s home.
The result? Homeowners often end up paying two bills: one for their surprise new security system provider, as well as their old security company’s monitoring bills. After all, installing another company’s equipment does not cancel any existing monitoring contracts with the previous security providers. Local governments and security companies do fight back against this type of practice. However, this remains one of the most popular security system scams that affect existing alarm customers today. If someone knocks on your door and claims to be associated with your security company, call your alarm company to verify. More likely than not, the person at your door does not represent the company they claim to work for. Now, let’s look at some scams that target customers who have not yet purchased an alarm system.
Verify the Identity of Letters or Flyers Dropped Off at Your House
Door-to-door scams account for a good amount of the bad will directed at the alarm sales industry. Additionally, some companies use flyers with misleading information to attempt to pressure homeowners into a security system installation. Some companies will misrepresent where the flyers are from. For example, some companies will send flyers that look like they are sent from your local town office.These flyers could include the name of a security company to call to install an alarm system. If you receive one of these flyers, do not call the number on the flyer. Instead, research the contact information for the company or agency listed on the return address. You may well find that they did not send the flyer at all. In addition to vetting mail from security system companies, we recommend reading over any paperwork they present you with carefully. Let’s take a closer look at this advice now.
Read Alarm Paperwork Carefully
Many alarm companies make their money through long-term monitoring contracts. Often times, these contracts lock you into a multi-year obligation to pay monitoring fees. In some instances, these fees will increase over the term of the contract. This means that you have no recourse to cancel your monthly bill even as it climbs higher and higher! We wrote about the danger of these tricky contracts in our post on Following the Latest Home Security Trends. Some security companies still require long-term commitments to do business with customers. However, companies like our own prefer to let customers monitor their homes or businesses on a month-to-month basis without tying them to a lengthy contract.
This means that you can purchase a security system worry-free even if you plan on selling your property in the near future. Locking customers into contracts without disclosing the terms up front is one of the longest-running security system scams. Some companies even ask customers for an electronic signature on a phone to activate a monitoring contract. This method of signing gives customers no chance of reading the terms of the deal. We advise our customers to read over any paperwork they are presented carefully. Doing so can save a major inconvenience down the road. Now, let’s turn our eyes to making sure that you do business with the right security company.
Do Your Due Diligence on Potential Alarm Companies
Whether an alarm company contacts you first, or you plan on reaching out to them, we recommend researching reviews on their social media pages and on search engines. Companies that sell security system scams often have a large amount of individuals blowing the whistle. Your research may even lead you into finding companies known for some of the tactics listed in this post. In extreme examples, you may even find details of legal issues related to certain security companies. In today’s day and age, companies must provide dependable service in order to maintain a strong reputation in the industry. It gets easier all the time for consumers to dig up any dirt available while doing their shopping. Our last tip ties nicely into this one, as disreputable companies often attempt to pressure customers into making decisions too quickly.
Refuse to Get Pressured Into Making a Quick Commitment
A good alarm company will not demand that you make a commitment to their company right away. In fact, we present our customers with as much information as possible, then encourage customers to think things over, do their research, and come back to us with any questions they may have. If a company pressures you to make a decision before you feel ready, then we encourage you to look elsewhere for your security system needs.
Companies may use different methods to create the urgency to make a quick commitment. Some may offer a “one-time only” deal that they claim will go away if you hesitate even for a day or two. Others may use fear as a tactic, citing vague statistics about “local crime in the area.” As a comparison, we honor our quotes for a minimum of thirty days after sending them. While equipment costs do change over time, they do not change day to day. Do not let an alarm provider use vague threats or bad sales tactics to scare you into signing with a company that will give you headaches moving forward.
Understanding and Avoiding Security System Scams
We hope that this post will help you sidestep potential security system scams. Unfortunately, the home security industry seems to lend itself to more than its share of deception and trickery. However, we still advise taking on the important task of adding equipment to monitor your home against burglary and other security threats. If you have any questions about the material in this post, we encourage you to contact us. We provide free site surveys for homeowners. While on site, we can address any security concerns you may have. Additionally, we can make our own recommendations if you wish. Together, we can put together a complete plan to keep your home as safe and secure as possible.