If you get a strange phone call or knock at your door from someone selling home security, beware. The Federal Trade Commission and the Better Business Bureau are warning consumers about the rise in deceptive home security sales. Getting a knock at the door from someone trying to sell you home security may seem normal, but if you’re not aware of the red flags, it can be dangerous and expensive.
Red flags for security system scams
The FTC highlighted that sales agents make “cold calls” of door-to-door sales during the spring and summer months. The commission also shared that some agents will lure you into a sale with scare tactics such as increased burglaries in your neighborhood, limited-time offers, free equipment, or force their way into your home and refuse to leave.
Even if you already have yard signs that show you have a security system, scammers may act as your current provider to offer to upgrade or replace your equipment. These deceptive sales agents will scam you by installing a new system and require you to sign a contract that could come with expensive professional monitoring fees.
What to do if you’re a target of a security system scam
The FTC urges homeowners to ask for the following information before buying equipment or providing any information:
- Contractor’s name and license number
- Street address
- Phone number
- Name that the license is filed under
Don’t hesitate to verify the information before continuing to speak with the salesperson. ADT also shared what to look for when an ADT sales agent or technician comes to your home. Many other providers will have similar tips. For example, employees or authorized dealers will show company-issued identification. They will also provide a phone number to call and confirm that a salesperson or technician was sent to your home.
What to do before buying a home security system
Whether you buy a system in-person, over the phone, or online, it’s important to keep your safety and security top of mind. The BBB shared a few tips to help you buy a system that you’re comfortable with and avoid scams.
- Get trusted recommendations. Ask friends and family about their preferred security provider, or look at our list of the best home security systems for trusted recommendations. You can also check the BBB for the company’s accreditation, rating, and customer reviews.
- Factor in the fees. When buying a security system, keep other costs in mind that may not be advertised. That may include installation, monitoring, activation, and other fees to start service. Some services and fees are optional, but it’s important to ask before signing the contract.
- Read the fine print. Make sure you read any contracts or agreements thoroughly. Don’t hesitate to contact customer service for any questions before signing. After you sign, ask for a copy of the contract for reference in the future.
- Ask about warranties and guarantees. Most security companies offer warranties to replace or refund the costs of defective equipment. The warranties can also cover any repairs or service calls if needed. Your system may also come with a guarantee that lets you return your system for a full refund within a certain timeframe. Most guarantees last between 30-60 days.
- Don’t be afraid to cancel. The FTC’s “Three-Day Cooling-Off Rule” gives customers the right to cancel or return services and equipment over $25 within three days if they were installed at your home. If you’re unsure about your security choice, you can return it — even if it’s a door-to-door sale. The seller should also tell you about your right to cancel at the time of installation.
You should never feel pressured to make a purchase, especially when it comes to home security. Take time to research providers and equipment that make you feel safe and meet all of your security needs. Remember to watch out for red flags, and if you don’t feel comfortable with a salesperson at your door, don’t feel pressured to answer questions or accept a service. Most importantly, if you’re faced with a scam, report it to the FTC to keep you and others safe.