Read this before you buy a security system from a door-to-door salesperson.

4 minute read

Most of us have opened the door to a smiling guy or woman with clipboard in hand trying to sell security systems in the neighborhood. Maybe you’ve listened to security system pitches out of politeness, or perhaps you were intrigued enough to consider or purchase the deal offered.

However, making an impulsive purchase of a home security system isn’t a wise move. With door-to-door sales of security systems, caution is key, warns the Better Business Bureau (BBB).

The BBB receives many complaints from consumers about shady home security company reps showing up at the door trying to get them to switch their alarm service.

“This is often done by a door-to-door salesman claiming to be the consumer’s current provider and offering an “upgrade” or by saying their current alarm service is out of business or was sold to the door-to-door salesperson’s business,” according to the BBB.

That’s not the only home security scam to watch out for, though. Here are 4 red flags of a questionable home security system offer and tips for choosing a reputable company.

1. High-pressure sales tactics

Door-to-door salespeople have to be pushy enough to get you to listen for at least a few minutes to their spiel. But watch out for a company rep who insists that you make a decision the same day on whether to buy the company’s home security system.

Salespeople are always eager to close the sale. However, a reputable seller will allow you time to think over the offer and perform some research so you can make an informed decision, says the BBB.

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2. Deals that seem too good to be true

If the security system offered is an extremely low price, be careful. When you go cheap, you often “get what you pay for,” which could mean low quality, poor customer service or technical issues with the security system.

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3. No company identification

If the salesperson trying to convince you to sign up and pay for a new home security system can’t provide company identification and proof that he or she works for that company, it’s time to close the door. Also, be wary of a salesperson who has no ties to the community and seems to know little about your city or neighborhood. Security system sales reps often travel from city to city and may not deliver on what they promise, says the BBB.

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4. Poor BBB rating and reviews

If a search on the BBB website for the alarm company pulls up a poor BBB rating or scathing reviews, pass on the deal and search for a home security company with an A+ rating and good reviews.

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Tips for choosing a credible home security system company

Just because a security system salesperson knocks on your door doesn’t automatically mean that the company isn’t credible. Still, some extra caution is in order. Here are tips for choosing a reputable home security system company.

Stick with home security names you recognize

The BBB recommends dealing with only a well-known company after checking out its BBB rating and reviews. You can also ask your homeowner’s insurance agent for referrals to trusted home security companies.

Make sure the company you choose can accommodate your security needs and budget. “The best home security system will accommodate lifestyle and specific valuables to be protected,” says the BBB.

Research before buying

The BBB suggests contacting at least three home security system companies for products and prices before choosing one. Then perform some research. Is the company properly licensed in your city and state? Does the company run a criminal background check on employees before hiring? Find out. If the answer is no, move on to a reputable company.

“You can also look up companies on the websites of the Electronic Security Association and the Canadian Security Association to make sure they have pledged to uphold industry standards,” says the BBB.

Make sure you understand all charges

That security system deal may seem like a good price, but if you’re not careful, you could end up paying extra charges not included in the cost quoted. For example, there may be an additional installation charge or monthly monitoring fees. Ask about all charges upfront to avoid billing surprises later.

Read the contract carefully

Most people don’t like reading the fine print of a contract. However, if the system will be monitored by the company or a third-party monitoring center, you make sure you know and understand all the terms of the home security system contract.

Look for terms that answer these questions:

  • What recourse do I have if you’re dissatisfied with the product and services?
  • Can I cancel the contract, and is there a cancellation fee?
  • What happens to my contract if the alarm company is purchased by another security system business?

What happens if I change my mind later?

It’s easy to be swayed into buying a home security system by a smooth-talking salesperson on a Saturday afternoon when you’re relaxed and open to new ideas. But if you rush into signing a contract, you may regret the decision once the salesperson walks away. If that happens, you may still be able to back out of the agreement if you act fast.

In the U.S. the “cooling off” period – the length of time you can cancel the agreement before the contract becomes final — is three days for door-to-door sales, according to the BBB. In Canada, the cooling off period varies, depending on the province.

For more information on federal laws on door-to-door sales, visit the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) or Industry Canada’s Office of Consumer Affairs.

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About the Author

Deb Hipp

Deb Hipp

Deb Hipp is a full-time freelance writer based in Kansas City, Mo. Deb went from being unable to get approved for a credit card or loan 20 years ago to having excellent credit today and becoming a homeowner. Deb learned her lessons about money the hard way. Now she wants to share them to help you pay down debt, fix your credit and quit being broke all the time. Deb's personal finance and credit articles have been published at Credit Karma and The Huffington Post.

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