Beware of Summer 'Home Security Scams'
In a recent post, we stressed the importance of staying vigilant during the summer, when warm weather brings out more burglars. But burglars aren't the only bad guys you need to worry about around this time of year.
There's an increasingly common summer scam that's been popping up all over the country: scam artists posing as home security sales representatives.
The Better Business Bureau (BBB) issued a warning last month, alerting homeowners to this dangerous scam.
Here's how the so-called "home security scam" works. Someone knocks at your front door, offering a deal on a home security system. It looks legit. The person is well dressed and courteous. But in reality, they're not selling an alarm. They're stealing your financial information or casing your home for burglary.
For people who already have home security systems, these scam artists will sometimes claim to be from the security company. They'll say the control panel needs to be fixed or that the customer's billing information is out of date. Both lies.
So, how can you tell if the person is a legitimate company representative, and how can you protect yourself from the scam artists?
Here are some great tips from the BBB:
- Know who you're dealing with.
Be suspicious of anyone who comes to your door. (No reputable security company will send someone to your door to update your system without notifying you beforehand via mail and/or phone). Ask to see identification, a physical address of the company, and references.
- Don't make a decision now.
There's no reason to buy anything or give away any personal or financial information while the person is at your door. If they say you must act now to get some amazing deal, then chances are it's a scam. Ask for some materials that you can review at a later time. Use that information to do your own research online.
- Ask for estimates on paper.
First off, if the rep at your door hasn't made an appointment with you, then you shouldn't continue the conversation. But if you can confirm from their ID and materials that they are a legitimate salesperson, and you are interested in their offer, then make an appointment for a later day. Remember: resist the temptation to "buy now." You need time to research their credentials and compile questions that you'll ask during a later appointment.
- Save receipts.
If someone has legitimately sold you on an alarm system or service, keep in mind that many states allow you to cancel that contract within a few days and get a refund, regardless of whether you've already received the goods/services. You aren't obligated to return those goods until you get your money back
When in doubt, just don't answer the door. These days, there's rarely a need to purchase anything from a door-to-door salesperson, regardless of how good the deal seems. And there's always a risk that the person is not who they claim to be.