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BBB Tip of the Week: House Alarm Scam

Erin T. Dodge

In a con related to house alarms, supposed alarm technicians arrive at homes and claim that they are there to upgrade or update the system. In actuality they are from a competing alarm company. After they gain access to the alarm system, they install their company’s system by piggybacking onto or replacing the current hardware. Before they leave, they ask the homeowner to sign some paperwork that the upgrade was completed. In fact it is a new contract with the different alarm company.

Unsuspecting homeowners may not realize they’ve been scammed until their original alarm company contacts them to report that the system isn’t responding or once they start receiving monthly invoices from two alarm companies.

Better Business Bureau offers the following advice to avoid con schemes such as these:

If someone arrives at your door unexpectedly, saying they need to service your alarm or any other system, be sure to call the company to verify before letting them into your home. Call using the phone number you already have on paperwork. Don’t trust a number given by the person on your doorstep.

Don’t get caught off guard by a good story. Scammers may give creative explanations, such as claiming that your current alarm company has gone out of business or that a neighbor’s construction project may have disconnected service to your home requiring a system check. No matter the reason, always call to check with the company directly before letting anyone into your home.

If a sales person or someone claiming to be a technician won’t take ‘no’ for an answer or attempts to push their way into your home, close the door and call the police.

Close the door on harassment too. Scammers use high-pressure scare tactics. A story of crime sprees in your neighborhood is just one example. Resist the temptation to react on the spot, shut the door, and research the alarm company in question at www.bbb.org. If the company is legitimate, they will gladly sell you a system after you have done your research.

Reporting scams could help protect others and stop criminals from such activities. If you have been scammed by someone claiming to be something they are not, report it to BBB at www.bbb.org or by calling (509) 455-4200; to the Washington state Office of the Attorney General at www.atg.wa.gov/file-complaint; and to the FTC at www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov.

by Erin T. Dodge, BBB editor

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