Summertime brings with it lots of fun – summer barbecues, baseball games and sitting poolside. However, the warmer weather can also bring safety risks that can threaten a home’s security. Worst of all, these risks sometimes come in the form of a wolf in sheep’s clothing…
An unfortunate reality in the alarm industry are so-called “door knockers” or “summer slammers” – door-to-door solicitors offering cheap alarm services in place of existing security systems. The Better Business Bureau is well aware of these companies and warns that their solicitors often attempt take over other companies’ existing customers with aggressive sales practices and misleading information – sometimes even with an installation truck behind them to do a quick and inadequate installation of sub-par equipment.
Your best defense against these types of predatory tactics is to be a well-educated customer. Know how to spot them at the door. The profile of these imposters is as follows:
- Well educated and well-spoken college students or graduates
- Personable, well-dressed and perhaps using new technology
- State they are there on behalf of the existing alarm company to upgrade the security system for free
Consumers can use the following tips to protect against this security risk:
- Always check for tell-tale signs of legitimate companies such as uniforms and marked vehicles.
- Most security professionals carry ID cards, so customers should ask to see this information, in addition to business cards. In fact, many cities and states have strict laws regulating door-to-door sales, so often the salesperson is required to tell you their name, the name of the business they represent, and the items or services they wish to sell before making any statements.
- Beware of claims that your security company has gone out of business or that they are with the new company that has taken over the accounts of your current security company and that you have to buy new equipment and sign new contracts. If you hear this, call your current monitoring company to confirm. Any reputable alarm company would notify you of a huge change like this by mail or telephone.
- Ask who will own the security contract, and if the company who sells the service is the same as that which will install/monitor the system. The more people who assess/evaluate a home’s security threats, the greater the risk is of those facts reaching people with malicious intent.
- Don’t be misled by false police reports deceptive salespeople will sometimes use to pressure their targets into buying.
- Check out the company by researching online. Read about other people’s experiences to find helpful home alarm system reviews. Also, contact your state Attorney General (www.naag.org), local consumer protection agency (www.consumeraction.gov), and the Better Business Bureau (www.bbb.org) to see if any complaints are on file.
If you suspect the salesperson at your door is deceptive:
- Write down details that you can pass on to law enforcement or your real security provider (e.g., the name of person, company, date and time).
- Call their security provider to verify the identity of the person at your door.
- Ask to see a Solicitation Certificate issued by your city – If they refuse or do not have one, call your local police officer and BBB to report them.
And, as always… be safe:
- Use technology to your advantage with sensors and/or cameras. Invest in a wireless doorbell intercom so that you can speak with salesmen without opening your door
- Keep doors and windows locked when you’re not home.
What should you do if you fall prey to such aggressive tactics? Remember, you can always cancel the deal thanks to the FTC’s Cooling-Off Rule. This law gives you three business days to cancel any purchase over $25 if you sign the contract in your home or at a location that is not the seller’s permanent place of business. You have a right to change your mind, even if the equipment has already been installed.
Most of all, educate yourself to find a reputable home security systems provider so that you can better protect yourself and your family all year long.
Have your own story of a run-in with Summer Slammers? Share your story in the comments below. And be sure to Find Us on Facebook for more home security tips!