Certain alarm monitoring companies employ various tactics to take money from honest people for service that they may never receive. Worse yet, some criminals and frauds use savvy tricks and tactics to fool unsuspecting individuals. This can cost a customer caught in their traps thousands of dollars. Don’t let monitoring companies or criminals take advantage of you.
Keep an eye out for these 10 security scams and dishonest tactics, and know how to prevent them from happening.
1. Expensive Hidden Fees
Many legitimate security companies are known for making most of their money through hidden fees. What might seem like a good deal may really be a total rip-off. You might see the low monthly rate or low equipment cost and be completely sold. However, expensive activation fees and service fees can quickly add up and rob you blind. Suddenly, your great deal has turned into a total money-sucking trap. This article outlines much of the hidden costs associated with security systems.
Always read the terms of service for a security contract. Know exactly what you are agreeing to before you commit to a security company. Most importantly, choose a company that will provide you with the level of support that you need, at a price you can afford. Many customers find that the best option for them is a DIY security company, such as Alarm Grid. These companies are less likely to charge you hidden activation fees or service fees. Plus, installing your own equipment will give you better control over your system.
2. Long-Term Contracts
A prominent tactic in the security industry is to lock customers into long-term contracts. Customers are often swayed by low or nonexistent activation fees and low-cost equipment. However, if they ever need to cancel their service, their monitoring company can hold them hostage. They will charge outrageous cancellation fees for a customer to get out of their plan. Should the customer refuse to pay these fees, they’ll instead be stuck paying their monthly cost of their monitoring plan. This can go on for years until their contract expires. Indeed, long-term contacts have been well-documented in the security industry for many years.
Again, make sure that you read the terms of your monitoring plan. Always know what you are getting into before making an agreement. If possible, choose an alarm monitoring company that does not have any contacts or cancellation fees. For example, Alarm Grid allows its customers to cancel their service at any time. They can even take their equipment with them to a new company if desired. There are also no added fees whatsoever to do this.
3. “I’m from your monitoring company.”
Placing stickers or signs outside your home to let potential intruders know that you are monitored is usually a smart idea. This will let the criminals know that your home is protected and that they shouldn’t try to mess with you. That said, some unethical alarm companies will use this information to their advantage. They’ll knock on your door in the middle of the day and claim to be a technician from your security company - whether that be ADT, Vivint or Alarm Grid. The phony technician will claim that they are they there to upgrade your system or that your panel needs to be inspected. These intruders are known for being very convincing. In many cases, they’ll even be wearing a fake uniform or having a phony ID number. Check out this dangerous situation in Miami, where some criminals posed as phony ADT workers. Many security companies have even started taking measures against this fraud in order to protect people.
Remember, any legitimate security company will never send over a technician without telling you first. If a technician randomly shows up at your doorstep claiming that they need to work on your system, tell them to pound sand. Also there are numbers that you can call to report unethical practices like this. ADT has even sued companies that engage in these deceptive practices. If they gain access to your system, they can disable or destroy it so that they can safely rob your house later. The intruder will also most likely use this opportunity to scope out your house and determine the most effective way to conduct a burglary. This is one of the scariest tactics that intruders can employ, so make sure that you are always on your toes.
4. Free Equipment
Security companies often make the promise of free equipment to lure customers in. Unfortunately, this free equipment is almost always accompanied by heavy installation and activation fees. By the time all is said and done, you can be left paying thousands of dollars. Turns out that "free" equipment wasn't so free after all. Any security or monitoring company that continuously stresses "free equipment" should always be approached with some caution.
Once again, it's critical that you read the terms of any security contract that you agree to. Just because the equipment itself is free doesn't mean that it's a good deal. Make sure that you are aware of any and all fees that the company will charge. These can include activation fees, installation fees, service fees, cancellation fees and monitoring fees. Take your time, and never agree to a plan that is sketchy below the surface. And always remember - if it's too good to be true, then it probably is.
5. Burglars in Action
This is another method used by home intruders and burglars. The criminals will show at your house up in official-looking uniforms, and they will show-off top-of-the-line equipment. They'll get you to sign up for a reasonably priced monitoring plan. They'll ask for some basic information so that they seem legitimate. They'll even arrive for a professional installation and supposedly provide you with fully monitored security equipment. If they want to be really convincing, they might even install a camera. They can then show you the video feed and make it look like you're fully protected. But in reality, your home is not connected to any central monitoring station, and your house is now prime picking for a burglary. While you might not know this, the criminals sure will. They will wait for the right opportunity and conduct a major burglary of your house. Even that camera will be useless, as they will simply take it. After all, you weren't actually monitored.
You can avoid this scary situation by always conducting full research before agreeing to monitoring service. Always be very wary of any security representative who suddenly shows up at your home. You are much safer going online or calling a reputable security company. Choose a company that has great reviews and an excellent track record for protecting their customers. It is extremely sketchy whenever a worker from a supposed security company shows up at your home without a prior invitation. You should also contact the security company in question and verify that the individual who came for a visit was indeed legitimate.
6. Scare Tactics
The use of scare tactics is very common in the security industry. This trick involves presenting false statistics or information as a way of convincing people to sign up for monitoring. A security representative might claim that there has been an increase in burglaries and that your home is at major risk. If they really want to get personal, they might state that your children or spouse is in major danger. They will say that the only way to protect your home and your loved ones is to sign up for monitoring service. Once you are in total fear, you will fork over money to this security representative so that your home will be protected. This representative will also most likely attempt to get you to sign up for certain services and features that you don't even really need. This will allow them to milk as much money out of you as possible.
While security monitoring is certainly a great way to protect your home, using scare tactics is taking things too far. This is especially true if they start presenting uncomfortable scenarios for your family. A sleazy salesperson will have no problem making up false numbers and statistics to scare you into doing what they want. Instead of falling into their trap, do you own research, and find out the truth about how dangerous your area really is. Only sign-up for the services that you need, and never agree to any monitoring plan based upon fear alone. Also be very suspicious of any sales presentation that is centered around threats or scare tactics. Many of these salespeople that use these techniques don't even work for security companies at all. They could very well be criminals who want to break into your home. Scare tactics are not presented in any reputable sales training, and they have no place in the security industry. An honest security company will never rely on these tactics, and they will be looking out for your best interests in the long run. Most importantly, if you ever feel pressured or uncomfortable, ask the sales person to leave immediately.
7. Proprietary Equipment
Proprietary security equipment is regularly supplied by security companies that do not care about their customers. This type of equipment is designed to work exclusively with the company that originally supplied it. This means that the equipment cannot be taken to a monitoring company and that cancelling service with the current company would turn that equipment into complete junk. It's also very likely that the customer paid will have paid a very hefty fee for this equipment. This will greatly discourage them from ever terminating their service. In other words, the monitoring company will have the customer right where they want them.
Luckily, you can beat the system by choosing a monitoring company that does not use proprietary equipment. This way, you will be able to take the equipment to a new monitoring company if you ever choose to do so. It is also wise to select a monitoring company that does not have any cancellation fees. One such company is Alarm Grid. This company only offers non-proprietary security systems. These systems can be taken to any monitoring company that will support them. The user will not need to replace any communication modules or any of their equipment. Additionally, there are no cancellation fees for terminating service with Alarm Grid, and customers can leave at any time. This makes Alarm Grid an excellent company for those who want to avoid the scam of proprietary equipment.
Follow these tips so that you can avoid getting scammed - both by actual security companies and the criminals who pose as them!