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Consumer Alert: Beware of Door-to-Door Home Alarm System Scams

May 24, 2018

ATLANTA, GA - As we welcome the warmer weather, some unwelcome visitors may come a-knocking. During spring and summer many home alarm system companies hire college students and others to go door-to-door making unsolicited sales calls. The commissions can be lucrative, which prompts some people to say whatever it takes to try to make a sale. The ensuing scams and deceptive practices can take several forms:

  • The sales agent may tell you that the equipment is “free,” and then pressure you into signing an expensivemonitoring contract after the equipment is installed.
  • The sales reps may use high-pressure sales tactics, telling you that to take advantage of a special, limited-time offer you must act immediately. They may even use scare tactics, for example, claiming there have been a rash of burglaries in your neighborhood and that they were referred by police living nearby.
  • Unscrupulous sales reps may pose as employees of your existing home security company and claim that your system is due for an upgrade or replacement. Once inside your home, they install a whole new system and get you to sign papers that include an expensive, long-term contract for the new system. You may not realize you’ve been scammed until you start receiving two bills:one from your original, legitimate provider and one from the new company.
  • The sales person may falsely claim that your current home security system provider has gone out of business and that he/she is a representative from the new company that has taken over. You are told you have to have new equipment installed and sign a new contract.As above, you will then find yourself receiving bills from both your original provider, (which, of course, did not actually go out of business), and the new company.

The Office of the Attorney General offers the following tips to help you avoid these door-to-door scams:

  • Always ask to see a photo ID and a business card.
  • If the sales rep claims to be with your existing home alarm system provider, call that provider using the phone number listed on your bill to verify that the representative and his/her stated reason for being there are legitimate.
  • Rather than making a decision on the spot, ask the salesperson to leave you with written materials that you can review.
  • You have the right to refuse to open the door to anyone.  In fact, it is wise not to allow a salesperson into your home unless you have a prescheduled appointment.
  • High-pressure sales tactics often indicate a scam. 
  • Never sign a contract without first reading it thoroughly and making sure you understand everything. Some companies now use electronic contracts, which can make it somewhat harder to do this, especially for “low-tech” consumers. However, you do not have to consent to using an electronic contract. If you ask for a paper contract instead, the business is required by law to provide you with one, although it may charge you an additional fee.
  • Get all prices, warranties and cancellation policies in writing.
  • Door-to-door sales purchases of $25 or more are subject to the Federal Trade Commission’s Cooling-Off Rule, which gives you the right to cancel your purchase within three business days and receive a full refund. If the seller fails to do any of the following, he/she is violating the law:
    • Tell you that you have the right to cancel the order within three business days for a full refund
    • Provide you with a written summary of your cancellation rights
    • Give you two copies of the cancellation form
    • Give you a copy of your contract or receipt

Report any door-to-door scams or violations to our Consumer Protection Unit by calling 404-651-8600 or going to www.consumer.ga.gov.

The Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Unit is also warning consumers about a recent uptick in Publisher’s Clearinghouse Sweepstakes scams and IRS imposter scams.