Have you ever been approached by a representative from a security system company with some deal that sounds too good to be true? Beware, scammers often rope people into long contracts and unnecessary setups to cash in on commissions. Here’s how to spot a security system scammer.
You don’t need to “act now”
If you’re ever being pressured to act fast on a security system, you’re probably not getting a good deal. Pressuring you into a contract is easier if you don’t have time to think about it. Always ask for a quote so you can compare your prices to other systems.
You may be tempted by an offer of “free” equipment, but oftentimes this is only possible due to long contracts. Many great systems come with better equipment for your specific needs.
Rising crime rates
While rising crime rates in your area are a reasonable rational to get a security system, don’t trust a salesperson to give you accurate figures. And even if crime is on the rise, you’ll want to make sure the system you get can adequately protect you from potential break-ins.
While you do some research, there are plenty of cheap ways to make your home a little more secure. And once you get set up with a good pro system, those cheap tactics can still be of use to dissuade lazy robbers looking for easy prey.
Do some research
The internet is full of advice, but all that info can be overwhelming. If you got a quote from a security salesperson, do some research on the company. Head to the Better Business Bureau and do a quick search. Try to find prices online to make sure your rate is on par with buying directly from the company.
Of course, you’ll want to look into other systems at the same time. We have guides for many of the most popular systems, offering the pros and cons for each, along with prices and equipment information.
You may also want to talk to friends and neighbors. If your area is seeing a rise in crime, you likely aren’t alone in looking into more home security. See what others are getting and ask them the pros and cons. Many companies offer referral bonuses as well, so friends will be happy to share.
If you’re talking to contractors, be sure to ask lots of questions. While many of these are about what kind of protections you’re getting, also be sure to ask about the contracts and fees you will be responsible for. Here’s the questions the Federal Trade Commision suggests asking:
- Who will perform the installation and monitor the system? Some companies subcontract this work to a third party.
- What is the contract period for monitoring? One year? More? Are there penalties for early termination? What happens if you move before the contract term is up?
- How much does the monitoring cost? How often will you be billed?
- Does the company call you before notifying the police?
- How soon after the alarm sounds will you be notified?
- What happens if the alarm company can’t reach you when the alarm is sounding? Is the alarm reset? Are the police called? Are alternate numbers called?
- What happens if the power goes out? Is there a back-up battery system?
- What does the warranty cover, and for how long? Is it from the manufacturer or their installer?
- Who is responsible for repairs or upgrades to the system?
- Does the company offer interactive services like smoke and fire detection, remote control, video surveillance, email notifications and special apps for smart phones?
You may be able to cancel your contract!
Did you already get roped into a contract that sounded good from the salesperson’s mouth but looks a little fishy on paper? You may be able to cancel without paying! If you sign a contract in your home or outside the seller’s place of business, the FTC’s Cooling Off Rule may apply.
Under the rule, you have three days to cancel a contract signed outside of the seller’s official place of business. You don’t have to give a reason. To cancel, you can sign and date a copy of the cancellation form that was left with the contract. If you didn’t get a cancellation form, you can write a letter of cancellation. Just be sure to have it postmarked within three days of originally signing the contract.