Home Security Alert! - Beware of Home Security Service Scammers
The signs that come with a home security system can be an effective crime deterrent. But for some unsuspecting residents, those signs serve as an invitation for home security scammers. If you have or are thinking about having a home security system installed in your home, the following is important information on this common-day security scam and what you can do to protect yourself.
How Residents with Home Security Systems are Scammed
The security scam in the recent news reports involves residents who have existing home security systems in place. Here's how the scam works.
A friendly and official looking representative from an alarm company shows up at your door. He talks to you about your existing home security company and advises that he is one of their affiliates. In some cases you might be told that your existing security company is no longer servicing your area, and his company has been contracted to switch over your service. In other instances, you may be offered an additional service for a price that's too good to pass up.
Before you know it, you're filling out paperwork and giving the guy your credit or debit card information, and he's installing new home security devices in or around your home.
What's really happening in cases like these, however, is you're being scammed into switching or purchasing what is more often than not fake home security services through a bogus company. In many of these situations, the services promised by the new company are not provided, and you are left with faulty home alarm system that leaves you completely unprotected and with a false sense of security.
This is exactly what happened recently to a homeowner in Kansas City, Missouri. According to the KMBC-TV report, a man from a company called Monitronics Monitored Security Systems showed up at the homeowner's door. The man claimed his company was affiliated with the resident's home security provider. After being offered an additional service for just $5 more a month, the homeowner agreed to the service and invited the man into his home. The entire ordeal turned out to be a scam, and the new security equipment the perpetrator installed was completely useless.
Scams like these have been going on for years. As stated in the KMBC-TV article, ADT, a popular home alarm company, prosecutes up to three companies each year for stealing their customers through illegal means.
Home Security Scam Prevention Advice
If there's one piece of home security advice I could get every resident to follow it would be this—NEVER ANSWER THE DOOR TO A STRANGER! As a home security expert, this is what I consider the golden rule. Many of today's scams and home crimes can be avoided by following this simple advice.
Other important steps you can take to keep from falling prey to a home security scam include the following:
- Keep your door closed and locked at all times. Keeping your front door closed and locked affords you with the ability to discretely look through the peephole to see who's there, and even ignore who's at your door without the person knowing you're home. The ideal device to have for situations like this, however, is a wireless surveillance system, such as the OnGARD Walk-About. This system is equipped with a portable LCD monitor that allows you to see who's at your door from any room in your home.
- If you feel compelled to speak to the person, do so from behind the door. No matter how official the stranger at your door looks, DO NOT open the door to speak to him or her. Instead, keep your door locked and closed while you talk to the person. This is extremely important, because in addition to home security scams, a number of home invasions are carried out by thugs posing as solicitors, service workers, and even police officers. Having a security door brace in place can provide you with the peace of mind and protection you need should someone attempt to force their way through your door.
- Verify the representative's credentials. If a person at your door claims to be affiliated with your existing home security service (or any other company you do business with), ask for their name and ID number. Next, call your existing service provider and verify the person's credentials and purpose for being there. Do not call a phone number that the stranger provides, as it could be a number to someone else that is in on the scam. Locate your service provider's phone number yourself. Never allow someone into your home without verifying their credentials.
- When in doubt, call the police. If you feel uncomfortable or suspect the person at your door is up to no good, call and inform your local police department. If a person at your door persists or refuses to leave, call 911.
Be Smart and Beware
As unfortunate as today's home security scams are, never let them discourage you from having a home security system installed or displaying the monitoring company's signage. Just be smart and beware of the scams that are out there, and follow the advice given above.
If you are looking to have a new home alarm installed or are considering switching to a different company, be sure to read Choosing the Right Alarm Company: What You Should Know Before Agreeing to a Cheap No Frills Home Security System.
Henry, K. (2015). Scammers prey on home security service customers. KMBC.com. Retrieved from http://www.kmbc.com/news/scammers-prey-on-home-security-service-customers/33515816