Don't be a target for a home security system scam

By  | 

TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) -- The Better Business Bureau wants to help you avoid being ripped-off by someone pretending to sell you a home security system.

Every year, thousands of people ask the BBB about the scams. Customers want to feel safe and dishonest people take advantage of that, the organization says. To help protect you, it offered tips to help spot scammers and what to look for when you're shopping for a security system.

The BBB says the high-pressure sales techniques and deception are the "hallmarks" of unscrupulous companies. These lines should send up red flags:
- “I’m with (name of your present security company) which has been bought out by (name of some scam company.” They will then ask you to sign a new contract and buy new equipment.
- “I’m with (name of your present security company) and I’m here to upgrade (or “replace”) your alarm system. May I come in?” Do not let them into your home.
- “I wanted to let you know there have been several burglaries in your neighborhood.” They then try to sign you up for their security system network.
- “I have an offer that’s only good for a limited time.” (One of the oldest scammer tricks in the book.)
- “We’re offering free equipment.” (They then sign you up for an expensive system-monitoring contract.)

Remember, if you already have a security system, the company will notify of any changes by phone or by mail - they won't just show up at your door unannounced. If that does happen, the BBB recommends you call your security system company and ask about the issue.

If your looking into buying a security system for your home, the BBB recommends you consider the following:
- Check out the company with the BBB at bbb.org. Do an online search for complaints or issues with the company as well.
- Get references from friends, family or neighbors. Ask how satisfied they have been with the company in question.
- Get written estimates from several companies and ask lots of questions. Be sure you are getting the same type system from each bid for comparison.
- Find out who installs and monitors the system. Is a subcontractor involved?
- Ask if they run a background check on employees prior to hiring.
- Ask what happens if you move or otherwise want to cancel your service.
- Once you have a contract to sign, read it thoroughly before signing anything. Among other things, it should state the installation charge, monitoring charge, contract period, warranty and applicable discounts.
- Check with your homeowner’s insurance company to see if you get a discount for having a security system.