BBB Reports Home Alarm System Sellers Ignore Do Not Call Registry and Use Fear Tactics
Did you know that, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), there is a home break-in in the United States every 15 seconds? According to Better Business Bureau, that is the central claim used by home alarm system sellers in illegal telemarketing calls.
Consumers across the nation have received recorded messages such as these on their cellular and home phones, even though they are listed in the federal Do Not Call Registry (DoNotCall.gov).
Here is a typical example of one of the calls:
“The FBI reports there is a home break in every 15 seconds. Your local police recommend you protect your home. If you are allow us to place a small sign in your yard we will install a new security system at absolutely no cost to you whatsoever.”
The recording then urges the recipient to press “1” for more information or “9” to be removed from the telemarketer’s list.
As a matter of policy, the FBI does not endorse commercial products or services and will never call to solicit consumers.
This is just one ploy used by unscrupulous alarm system sellers to push consumers into purchasing a home security system or sign a contract for alarm monitoring.
There were more than 7,400 complaints to BBB about burglar alarm system and monitoring companies across the nation in 2013. In their complaints, consumers cited deceptive business practices, unauthorized charges, failure to properly explain how the equipment worked and difficulty cancelling contracts.
In another variation of unethical home alarm sales practices, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) says salespeople try to persuade homeowners to switch monitoring services by telling them the company that is monitoring their alarms has gone out of business, and that a new company will be taking over the service and replacing or upgrading equipment.
Before signing a contract for a home security system or monitoring contract, Better Business Bureau urges consumers to follow this checklist:
Check out their story – If someone tells you that your alarm monitoring system company is no longer in business, call the company to verify.
Contact at least three companies before selecting an installer - Make sure to check with the Electronic Security Association website for a list of member companies that have committed to abide by its National Code of Ethics.
Carefully consider your security requirements - Review the sales contract closely to ensure you understand exactly what equipment and protection you are buying and ensure that it meets your needs. Ask for a complete inspection of your property and an itemized written estimate.
Make sure you ask about all fees – The cost of home security systems varies depending on the level of protection and type of technology used. Don’t forget to factor-in the initial installation charge in addition to monthly monitoring fees. Talk to your insurance agent, because some systems may qualify you for a discount on homeowner's premiums.
Know the ins and outs of your contract - If your alarm system will be monitored, either by your installing company or by a third-party monitoring center, make sure you are clear about the duration of the contract.
Insist that the installer walks you through your system until you fully understand how it works. This will prevent the most common problem: false alarms. False alarms can be an indicator of poor quality of the alarm installation and insufficient user education, and in many jurisdictions, homeowners who have too many false alarms may be subject to fines.
Before signing a long term contract, ask about your recourse if you are not satisfied with the services provided, whether you may cancel a contract and what penalties might be involved, and what happens to your responsibility for the contract if you sell your home before it expires.
You may obtain bids from BBB Accredited Businesses through the “Request a Quote” feature at www.bbb.org.
Founded in 1928, BBB Serving Connecticut is an unbiased, non-profit organization that sets and upholds high standards for fair and honest business behavior, and is one of 112 local, independent BBBs across North America.
For more than 100 years, Better Business Bureau has been helping people find businesses, brands and charities they can trust. In 2013, people turned to BBB more than 132 million times for BBB Business Reviews on more than 4.5 million businesses and Charity Reports on 11,000 charities, all available for free at bbb.org.