Spotting a home security systems scam is easy enough. Once you learn what criteria to look for in a legitimate home security and alarm company, you can create a checklist with which to measure the soundness of all future purveyors.
Quality Over Quantity
Don't be fooled by alarm companies who boast of large customer bases and wide areas of service. Small and local is often preferable. This allows for a more "intimate” connection with any given alarm company, and response times in the event of emergencies are significantly less. All alarm companies should possess a set of basic credentials with which you can begin to assess the quality of their reputation, their products, and their services.
Before doing any business with an alarm company, ask them to furnish:
Street address (no P.O. Box)
Contractor's license number
Issuing State of license
Name under with the license is filed
Confirm this info with either/or all of the following authorities:
State licensing officials
Local consumer protection agency
The Real Thing or a Real Scam?
If a home security systems salesperson appears on your doorstep and is hesitant to leave, close the door with a smile. It's your right to do so. Red flags should go up for you if salespeople are so overbearing, they refuse to vacate your porch or they repeatedly ask you to admit them so they can explain face-to-face all the great deals their company is offering.
Salespeople who use push and shove tactics are immediately suspect. "This is an amazing, super cheap, once-in-a-decade opportunity you absolutely don't want to miss.” "We only have several slots left for this new introductory offer, so you should let me sign you up today.” "Our company doesn't even service this area, but we're making exceptions for anyone who signs up today for the Premium Year plan.” Etc., etc.
Other methods include scare and confusion tactics, and salespeople may mention the rash of burglaries in nearby neighborhoods. "Don't go another night without proper protection. Let me enter you into our system right now. If I were you, I'd do it ASAP.”
Occasionally, very resourceful salespeople will charm their way onto your porch and claim they represent a new security company that has taken over your current provider, and all old accounts must be updated. This is FALSE 99% of the time.
Home security systems providers, like utility companies, typically alert subscribers to these changes long before they take place, either by snail mail, email or text. If you have not heard about such upcoming changes before the salesperson appears on your door, they are scamming you. Tell them you would prefer to check with the alarm company yourself, thank them kindly, and send them away.
All In The Family
Having narrowed your choices down, always opt for local home security systems providers whose customer service track record is attested to via the Better Business Bureau and word of mouth. You will have to permit your alarm owing to the False Alarm Ordinance. This is an annual $25 fee paid to the False Alarm Reduction Unit. This fee ensures resources spent on responding to false alarms are not lost altogether, allowing law enforcement the payroll dollars and people-power to address legitimate alarms/situations.
In short, the permit enables law enforcement to keep responding to alarms raised at your own home and the homes of your neighbors. When responses to false alarms deplete resources, real alarms can potentially go unchecked simply because there will not be enough money to pay a sufficient number of uniformed responders.
The False Alarm Reduction unit alerts all permit holders of renewal dates 30 days in advance.