No matter how smart you are, even the best of us can fall victim to a scam. Unfortunately the home security industry has it’s fair share of wheelers, dealers and con men to watch out for.
Often these scammers act as salespeople who go door to door preying on unsuspecting victims.
So the question is, how can you protect yourself against home security scams?
Here are some tips.
How to pick the warning signs
If ever you are confronted by a salesperson at your door, there are three sales techniques to watch out for:
1. High-pressure offers only valid on the spot
Part of being a salesperson is trying to get you to take action on the spot. This might be in the form of a limited time offer. Even if the offer is for a limited time, it’s not the sole reason to jump at it.
If the salesperson is using high-pressure tactics and are adamant that you sign up immediately, you’re probably better off just asking them to leave. Legitimate sales professionals may push you to make a decision, but will ultimately respect your wishes if you choose to hold off.
2. False burglar statistics to scare you
Another way that scammers can try to trick you into signing up for their home monitoring service is by lying, or otherwise misrepresenting, local burglar statistics.
If a salesperson’s pitch is focused on how you need to protect yourself or how dangerous your area is becoming, ask for – and verify – the source of this data to avoid making decisions based on false facts.
3. No uniform
What is the salesperson wearing? When it comes to door to door salespeople, it’s ok to judge a book by it’s cover. If the person isn’t wearing a uniform that helps identify them, be on your guard.
Vet the salesperson
Knowing what to look out for is a great start, but it isn’t always enough to avoid home security scams. Sometimes you have to dig a little deeper to figure out whether you’re talking with a legitimate security provider.
A few best practices you should follow in order to protect yourself from being ripped off include:
Get as much information as possible
Often scammers will tell you they are from a reputable company you know such as an electricity provider or even your existing home security provider (assuming you have signs in the lawn or security stickers on the window).
Even people who already have a home security system can fall victim to a scam. A common example of this is a salesperson saying that they’re from your current home security company (con artists can find out from the signs in the lawn or stickers in the window), and that they were sent to upgrade your system.
If you have any doubts about the offer being pitched to you, make an effort to write down as much information about the salesperson and their company as you can, including a business card and any official paperwork.
You need verify the person by some form of ID. You can also call the company to verify the person is who they say they are.
Ask challenging, in-depth questions
Another great way to separate the knowledgeable professionals from the potential scammers is to ask them some challenging in-depth questions about their system.
Although some savvy crooks may have rehearsed their story well enough to answer you, most will not have. If a salesperson is relying purely on gimmicks and pitches with no actual facts or answers, you should probably steer clear of them, regardless of whether they’re from a legitimate company or not.
Make sure you read everything
Like I mentioned at the beginning, plenty of legitimate companies offer their home monitoring services door-to-door. But no matter how trustworthy the salesperson comes across as, even if you’re certain they work for a major company, never sign a contract without carefully reading it first.
Even when you’re dealing with someone who’s on the up-and-up, it’s the terms of the contract that you’ll be bound to, not whatever claims the salesperson made. Always protect yourself by watching out for hidden fees, monthly charges, and fixed price increases.
Walk away if you’re not convinced
When it comes down to it, you should never sign up for a home security service if you have doubts of its legitimacy – no matter how appealing the deal is.
Home security is about providing peace of mind, and signing up for a service should be no different. If you simply aren’t comfortable working with a door-to-door salesperson, don’t hesitate to call up the company, explain your reservations, and ask them to match the deal on the phone.
If they’re not willing to, or if you’d rather wait for a more attractive opportunity, you may want to consider installing your own DIY home security system.