Home security systems are a great tool to keep your home and family safe. However, only 17% of American households have an active home security system installed.
The thing is, 60% of burglars admitted that the presence of an alarm or home security system would cause them to seek an alternative target altogether.
My point, is a home security system is clearly a worthwhile investment, however, you need to be extra cautious when it comes to who you buy your system from.
Unfortunately, an Indiana woman named Ellen D. discovered the hard way how careful you must be when purchasing a home security system.
According to Ellen, a salesman for NorthStar came to her door. She said the salesman led her to believe that he was there to upgrade her current system, adding that her current security company had moved.
According to Ellen, “They came to the door and said that the alarm system that we had, they were moving their offices from Utah to Fishers and they would have to update the alarm system to their system. It was just ‘bang bang bang. We’re getting this done.”
She said the salesman convinced her to sign a contract, removed her existing system, and installed the NorthStar system.
Not long after, Ellen realized something was terribly wrong when bills from both companies showed up. She said she called her original alarm company who told her they hadn’t moved and that she still had a contract with her old security system.
Next, she said she tried to cancel her new subscription, but a sales representative told her she’d need to cancel the older contract instead. Eventually, Ellen was able to settle the issue with NorthStar.
According to the company, they have “zero tolerance” for such sales tactics. In this particular incident, the salesman had worked for another security company and had only recently been hired by NorthStar.
He was already on a written probation and his employment was terminated based on his failure to follow company policies.
Now, it sounds like the incident was hopefully just a rogue salesman and that NorthStar is a legitimate and reputable company. However, these salesmen only make money if they get people to sign up for a new system, so they can sometimes be less than honest in their dealings.
For this reason, I want to share with you a few things to watch out for if you are searching for a new alarm system or getting ready to renew the contract on your existing system.
Inexperienced college kids. Every summer, thousands of college kids on summer break hit the streets to sell security systems by going door-to-door. A majority of these summer students have little or no training and are not even properly vetted in the community they are soliciting.
These types of salesman are supposed to be licensed in the specific location where they are selling the alarm systems, but many often fail to obtain the proper license.
If someone shows up at your door, they should have no problem showing you a valid identification, including a license to be able to do what they’re doing.
Beware of website reviews. These days, when you do an internet search for alarm company, you will often find websites with reviews and ratings of different security companies.
The thing is, these are professional looking websites that act like they are a “Consumer Reports” type of website for the security industry.
They will claim they have properly vetted a company and give them a review or ranking. The problem is that the security companies are actually paying these websites to give them good ratings and reviews.
In other words, they don’t accurately represent or review the actual company. When it comes to inquiring about an alarm system, I would talk to your neighbors who have them and try to avoid online reviews.
Hardware from overseas. When you have a new security system installed in your home, it will typically include hardware such as panels, cameras, and motion detectors.
The problem is, this type of hardware is frequently purchased from China. A lot of smaller security companies try to find the cheapest hardware to sell to their customers and it may not always be the best quality.
Unfortunately, some unregulated manufacturers in China have been known to hide exploitable software in the hardware they are selling. So, you end up with this equipment installed in your home or business and now you are an unknowing hackers target.
So, make sure to ask where the equipment is made and whether it’s a reputable manufacturer.
Monitoring is farmed out. After a security system is installed, a company will monitor the system and in the event an alarm goes off, the monitoring company will call you or your local police department.
The thing is, the company that sells you the security system is usually not the same company that monitors your system. Oftentimes, the consumer is never made aware of this practice.
If you experience an issue with the monitoring of your system, you may be arguing with a company that has no financial interest in you.
Additionally, some security companies have been known to forward your alarm monitoring overseas, which could affect the quality of the monitoring you receive.
Companies may not be certified or licensed. In the alarm industry, companies will say they are an A+ member of the local Better Business Bureau (BBB). Or they will claim they are a certified installer of a specific security system.
Before signing a contract with the company, always verify any claim. In addition, any company that sells in your geographical area is typically required to have a business license to operate in your area.
So, when you are dealing with a new company there is nothing wrong with asking to see their license or to verify any other claim they may make.
The reality is, installing an alarm system is one of the best things you can do to keep your family safe.
But, do you homework on the company you are considering signing up with, and take the time to review the contract, hardware, and any other concerns that may arise during the process.