It’s getting harder to tell the good guys from the bad guys. On the one hand, I am seeing more stories where a probable burglar knocks on a door, pretending to be from an alarm company. In fact, ADT, the 800 lb. gorilla of the alarm industry, has issued warnings and advice about this method that is used to get in the door – presumably to case your home for a future break-in.
We got a heads up from a viewer email that someone posing as an ADT security employee tried to enter their home, telling them he was there to update an alarm panel. Turns out, the alarm company says it was just a scam to get into the house. With this guest, your ‘Welcome’ mat might be exaggerating a bit. If you answer the door to someone who claims to sell security systems, ADT has some suggestions for avoiding scams.
- First, always check for company badges and photo id. ADT says they issue it to all employees, and it’s the fastest, safest way to make sure someone is who they say they are.
- Second, if they try to sell you services, always call and check with the provider. Many scammers will make wild, unrealistic claims that you can easily dispel.
- Third, don’t jump to sign anything they’re selling, no matter how hard they pressure. Take time to think about it and double-check the offers they extend. Keep all this in mind, and as always, don’t be afraid to shut the door.
- Plus, a representative for ADT says if they really are selling something and they use deceptive sales tactics to win you over on your door step, you can always report them to the Better Business Bureau.
Not Just Warning About Burglars
Great advice – but as you can see from the list above, ADT is not just warning about burglars: they are also tipping you off to the unsavory practices that some companies (or their employees) use to sell alarm systems door-to-door. It’s a sad fact that some of these “door knockers” actually pretend to be from your alarm company, and then convince you to sign a new contract with a different company! High pressure selling is one thing, but here we are dealing with fraud and deception: you could end paying two monthly alarm bills. Check out this great example from Alton, Illinois, on the topic of door knocker sales scams.
If you are the owner of a home security system, you may be targeted by door-to-door salespeople offering free security system upgrades this summer. The catch is, they may lead you to believe they are from your current security company, when in fact they are representing an entirely different operation. Better Business Bureau investigator Bill Smith says these salespeople are known to be loose with the facts when pitching their product. The BBB Business Review for Vision Security shows a D+ rating, with more than 270 complaints in the last 36 months. Most of those complaints have been filed in the last 12 months.
Even the Federal Trade Commission has Warned
These high-pressure hucksters have been at this for years, but the word is getting out. It’s now easy to find their poor reviews, reams of unhappy consumer testimonials, and the fines, lawsuits, and other government actions listed on the BBB (Better Business Bureau) website. Even the Federal Trade Commission has issued a warning about these folks.
It’s a fact: as public awareness has grown regarding the door knockers, and it’s harder to make the sale, some of them are resorting to lies and downright fraud to sign up new customers.
What Can You Do?
Consumers should utilize the following tips to protect themselves from door-to-door scams:
- Be wary of high pressure tactics. If you feel uncomfortable, don’t answer the door.
- Get all verbal promises in writing. Otherwise, they may not be honored.
- Don’t sign a contract under pressure. Take time to check the company’s reviews online at the BBB and other sites. Ask the salesperson to come back once you have had a chance to do your homework.
- Read the fine print. Check the length of the contract and all costs, including equipment, installation, and monthly monitoring fees.
- Understand your right to cancel. For door-to-door sales, sellers generally must give you three days to cancel and they cannot start the installation or any service until after the cancellation period has ended.
- Take your time. Don’t sign a contract until you have carefully reviewed it.
Harder to Sell Door-to Door
For many of these door knocker companies, customer complaints and horrible reviews continue to accumulate. Remember, door knockers don’t want you to research them: the complaints are too many and too easy to find, along with low ratings from the BBB – to say nothing of more attractive offers from other alarm companies with better reputations and service records – like FrontPoint. When you’re ready to learn why we are the nationwide leader in wireless home security, just check us out online. We make home security and home automation safer, smarter, simpler, more affordable, and virtually impossible to defeat. And best of all, you never have to answer that knock at your door.