Is Your Home Security System a Rip-Off Recruiter?
The typical intruder is male, about 25 years old, and looking for cash and easy-to-carry (and sell) items such as jewelry, laptops, guns, cameras and small electronics. He’s also watching out for evidence of a home security system.
In addition, there are con artists looking for front yard warning signs and other indicators that boast protection. Home security scammers, also now in their peak season, search for residences with existing installations so they can carry out these schemes:
- Posing as technicians for the home security system company noted on lawn signs or window decals, they claim they need to make repairs or examine your system. In fact, says Consumer Reports, “they’re tampering with the alarm system so they can return and burglarize your house.” It’s unlikely that your security company would dispatch a technician to your home without prior notification, but before allowing a worker to enter, authenticate any unsolicited phone call; those calling to arrange an appointment in advance could be scammers spoofing the company’s name and number on your caller ID.
- In what’s known as “slamming,” unscrupulous sales agents falsely claim that your current security system company is about to go belly-up or already has. Or they may lie about being from your existing company and say they need to upgrade or replace your system. Either way, it’s a move to get you into a more expensive, long-term contract. Besides paying more for what could be inferior service, you could be hit with expensive penalty fees (hidden in the small print) for trying to cancel that new contract.
- Faux freebies, in which you’re promised a free system and front lawn signs, come with the gotcha of outrageous monitoring charges, which could be hundreds more per month than what legitimate companies charge (typically from $30 to $60 per month).
- Then there are door-to-door salespeople trying to recruit new business. After having you complete phony paperwork and provide a deposit, they take the money and run — never to be heard from again.