Door to Door Security System Scams
Chances are you have been interrupted at your home by a door to door sales person at some point. Many door to door sales companies focus on the home security market, offering free or heavily discounted equipment and fantastic mobile home security automation if you sign up for their monitoring service. Beware – many of these companies are scams.
Home alarm systems can typically be installed by city-recommended contractors and sometimes even monitored for free by the police department. Legitimate security camera systems and access control can be integrated as well, allowing you to monitor your home or small business remotely and view recorded video.
Read more about things to look for and see check out some interesting articles below, but first…
A Real Life Door to Door Scam Story
We heard about this story from one of our employees, and had the person that wasalmost scammed put it into words. This person is a work-from-home freelance web designer and project manager, and a self proclaimed techy – not your typical person to be scammed.
Here is that story:
“Last year, I was working from home one day when a door to door salesman knocked on my door.
He was an unassuming late teen/early 20s male, with a friendly demeanor – not threatening at all.
I was presented with very convincing sales pitch and pamphlet. They were advertising door alarms, window alarms, smoke detector alarms, motion detectors, mobile notifications, and of course monitoring. The verbal and visual presentation was professional and friendly… and the price was reasonable.
Of course, there were free equipment offers if I purchased monitoring service, and promises of response times, etc.
As unlikely as it would seem, I was sold. I had been contemplating getting the pre-installed alarm system in my home officially activated for a few months, and here was a great opportunity!
I signed up. And immediately the salesman called his installer. Cool. Great!
The installer arrived, a young, but extremely large gentleman (think college linebacker – one of the starters). He began tearing into the pre-installed “junction box” in my master bedroom closet. I went back to work.
But then I started doing some research… it turns that my city will actually monitor alarm systems for free! And all I needed to do was get a cell transmitter (monthly fee) installed or hook it up to a phone line that existed in the home (which I didn’t have).
Ok, but what about all the cool equipment and features of this guy’s company? Well… I also looked into that while he was in my closet. Turns out there were several reports online of the inferior quality of the service and equipment, and many scam reports.
I made the decision to ask him to leave, cancel my contract, and void the check I had given the salesman.
Now I am not a small dude – a high school linebacker myself – but this guy had me by at least 50 pounds and was half a foot taller than me. He was in my home and I was intimidated. I figured I had home-turf advantage, though, so I explained that I was not comfortable with the situation and that I had found new information indicating that the city monitored such alarm systems for free and I wanted to go that route.
Luckily, he was very understanding and polite, explaining that that does happen from time to time and that he would undo what he had done and have the salesman come back with the contract and check. He then left (I believe I gave him a tip for his time – not his fault, and he was doing a proper job of it that I made him undo).
The salesman came back by, tried to talk me out of cancelling, but respectfully cancelled the contract and returned my check.
I don’t consider myself the type of person to be scammed, but I fell for a quick talking “kid” with good sales skills and a legitimate sounding product/service. Luckily, I was able to do the research fast enough to make the right decision and stop it. Many people may not have that opportunity, which is what these companies count on.
Was it a scam? Maybe not entirely. Was it a quality company providing a service that is truly more valuable than most others, probably not. Do I think I made the right decision? Yes.
I now have the city monitoring my home, and have had great response rates on false alarms (no real ones, thankfully).”
What to look for in door to door scams
- Door to door sales people…
This one may seem silly, but it is always a safe bet to turn away anyone that is trying to sell you something at your door. This excludes girl scout cookies, and possibly ice cream, of course.
- “Your neighbor just installed our system” verbiage
- “High crime rate in your area” verbiage
- “I am with [your current security company]” verbiage
- Free equipment
- Free installation
- “Act now” and “limited time offer” verbiage
- Fast talking and a speedy contract overview
- Offers to install today (they want to get in and out and have you trapped)
Always research a company before purchasing. Tell them to come back tomorrow if you are even remotely interested, but don’t let them into your home or give them money right then and there.
Some cities will monitor home alarm systems for free
That’s right. Free monitoring! Some local police departments will monitor alarm systems for city residents at no cost. There may be a monthly fee for a wireless cell signal transmitter, if you do not have a phone land line, but otherwise it is free. Check with your city to see if they provide this service or not.
The FTC Cooling-Off Rule – Cancel any door to door contract within 3 days
The federal trade commission’s Cooling-off rule allows anyone to cancel a contract signed anywhere but the seller’s official place of business within three days of signing it. So, even if you have been pressured into something by a door-to-door salesman, you can still get out of the contract after you have done your proper research.