DOJ receives a number of complaints about unscrupulous home security system sales agents (often door-to-door sales agents) who exploit a homeowner’s desire for safety. If you are in the market for a home security system, here are a few tips to avoid signing up for a substandard system or expensive service contract.
Understand your contract. Even if the price for the system seems reasonable, make sure you know how much it will cost to install, what the monthly monitoring rate will be, whether there are any fees, and how long you will be bound to the contract.
Some other questions you can ask:
- When the alarm sounds, who does the company call first – you or the police?
- What does the company do if your alarm is triggered and you cannot be reached?
- Are there any fees or penalties for false alarms?
- Who is responsible for repairs or upgrades to the system?
- What happens if you move before the terms of the contract are up?
- Does the company offer other services, like smoke and fire detection, email notification or special apps for smart phones?
Make sure any oral promises made by a sales agent about your security system are in the written contract.
Scare tactics. If a sales agent informs you about a rash of burglaries in your neighborhood, be sure to check out the facts. Their job is to sell security equipment, not monitor police scanners. There are many online resources to verify crime data from your neighborhood.
Limited-time offers. Legitimate offers are always valid beyond the moment a sales agent is at your door. Don’t be pressured to take advantage of a time-sensitive offer.
Aggressive salespeople. Saying “no” to a sales agent at your doorstep is easier than refusing them once they are in your house. If a sales agent refuses to leave and continues to pressure you into to making a purchase, call the police.
Imposters. If you currently have a home security system and are approached by a door-to-door sales agent, be wary of any claims about the present condition of your alarm system or your current service provider. If your current system required updating or the company had gone out of business, you would be notified by mail or telephone of the change in service and not at the door.
Research company reputations. If you are interested in purchasing a home security system, ask friends, family, co-workers and neighbors for references. Many customers also share their experiences with local businesses, both good and bad, by posting consumer reviews online. Be Informed is an online tool for consumers to search DOJ’s database of consumer complaints, prior to purchasing, to see if other people have contacted our consumer hotline with concerns about a business.
If you think you have been victimized in a home security system scam, or want to notify us about an individual, company or agency that may be engaging in unscrupulous behavior, please complete a Consumer Complaint Form or call 1-877-877-9392.
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