Door to Door Security Sales Raise Tri-State Concerns

June 14, 2011

Recently, a consumer called with concerns for an elderly family member approached by a door-to-door security provider. The caller explained that the sales person did not have a business card or paperwork to provide, but did have a photo i.d. around his neck.  The i.d. was not closely reviewed, but the visit raised enough concerns that the family member contacted local police and the BBB to see if the business was registered to solicit.

“This type of call is not uncommon,” says Tom Bozikis, Vice President of Policy and Standards at the Tri-State BBB, who further explained that  “any concerns with businesses should be checked out with your local BBB”. Mr. Bozikis also stated that the BBB receives many calls from consumers asking questions like "How do we know if a company is legit?”, “Should we have safety concerns?”, and “How do we know that the person at the door truly represents the company?”

Your BBB is always happy to help with questions of this nature and prompts consumers to think “safety first” when solicitors knock. The following are a few tips your BBB provides when it comes to door-to -door sales or business questions.

The Person at the Door

One should always exercise caution with any unknown sales persons knocking at the door.  Some companies have now tried to boost consumer confidence by providing name badges, picture i.d.’s, and/or other company information to help ease consumers’ minds, but consumers should always carefully review this information and remember to trust their gut. If the situation feels strange, pressured or uncomfortable, don’t feel obligated to open the door or even continue the conversation.  A reputable company should have no problem with consumers asking for business contact information, a brochure or time to obtain a Business Review from their BBB.

The Systems They Sell

When considering security systems it is important to remember that there are no completely “burglar proof” products available. No national standards specify required levels of performance, and the best protective device may not compensate for a lack of basic common sense. Alarm companies do, however, provide some companies and consumers benefits worth consideration, so if you decide to purchase an alarm system, consider shopping locally and check with the Better Business Bureau for a free Business Review. Ask friends and neighbors for references too, and always comparison shop.


BBB Tips:

  1. If you were offered a “free” alarm system, make sure this offer is in writing and be sure to inquire about installation costs, monthly monitoring or other fees that might apply.
  2. Check out the company that will be monitoring your system and ask if it is the same company you are signing a contract with. If not, make sure you obtain the name, address and phone number of this company.
  3. Some alarm companies may use FBI crime statistics to persuade the purchase of security systems. To insure this information is accurate, check with your local police department or visit the FBI’s website at
  4. Obtain a free Business Review from the BBB to learn more about the company, its complaint history, rating and accreditation status. Reviews can be found at (You may also call the BBB to obtain a report or seek objective advice at (812) 473-0202.
  5. Comparison shop. Consider the advantages and disadvantages of each system and company, deciding which will best suit your particular need.  Know how each system and alarm service works and also compare all costs and fees to understand your total investment.

Questions To Ask:
  • Does the company have a security patrol car that will check out the alarm?
  • Who is called first, the consumer or police and how soon after the alarm sounds will you or the police be notified?
  • What happens if the alarm company is unable to reach you when the alarm is sounding?
  • Is the alarm reset? Are the police called? Are alternate numbers called?
  • Can I have the procedures in writing?
  • What local building codes or other regulations apply so I know if I'll be responsible for other fees? (Will I be charged for false alarms?)

-Don't be pressured into buying something you don't want or need. A reputable
company will give you time to check out their offer and do your comparison shopping.

-Review your contract carefully and insure it includes all promises made by the sales
person before you sign.

-Confirm information such as:
  • Installation price
  • Monthly price
  • Length of the contract (some contracts are for multiple years)
  • All free or discount offers have been added
  • What will happen with the contract if you move
  • Cancellation time frame to cancel the contract.  The Federal Trade Commission requires that at least three days be provided. (,three day cooling off rule)
  • After your purchase, make sure you check the system routinely to be sure it is in working order.
Lastly, If you are having problems with your alarm, make sure you document dates, times, who you talked with, who came out and what was fixed.  Follow up with the business or contact your BBB if you cannot get your issue resolved.