Door-to-Door Agents Pitching Home Security Systems Podcast Transcript


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Welcome to the Informed Consumer, providing the latest tips and tools to assist consumers in making informed decisions, from the Fairfax County Consumer Affairs Branch.

Today’s topic is:  Door-to-Door Agents Pitching Home Security Systems.

The Federal Trade Commission, or FTC, is offering information to help homeowners avoid unscrupulous sales agents who go door-to-door during the summer months.  These scammers use deceptive, high-pressure tactics to get people to buy expensive, and sometimes substandard, home security systems they often don’t need.

Fairfax County requires that Peddlers and Solicitors be licensed before they solicit door to door.  The Solicitor’s License is an individual license, not a business license. If a solicitor tells you that their business has a license, the solicitor may not be properly licensed in Fairfax County.  If the solicitor does not have a license, call Fairfax County Police immediately to report the violation at 703-691-2131.

The FTC advises consumers to watch for these signs of a scam:

  • Pressure to act now to take advantage of a limited time offer.
  • Offers of free equipment to get you to sign a contract.  Translation: you may have to sign a long-term and expensive system monitoring contract.
  • Scare tactics stating burglaries have occurred in your neighborhood.
  • Phony upgrades – They say they have come to replace your security system, but they really want to install a new system with a costly contract for a monitoring service.
  • Your security company is out of business.  If they say this, call your company to confirm.

The FTC also advises that, whether sellers come to your door or you seek them out, ask for the contractor’s name, address, phone and license numbers; what state issued the license; and the name the license is filed under.  Check out the company online with the Fairfax County Consumer Affairs Branch at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/consumer, and the Better Business Bureau at www.dc-easternpa.bbb.org/ .

The FTC also advises consumers to:

  • Get references and find out how the equipment and services have performed for others.
  • Get written estimates from several companies and ask questions about who will install the system and how it will function.  Be sure you know who will monitor the system, how much it will cost, and how often you will be billed.
  • Read the find print.  Make sure the written contract includes all oral promises made by the salesperson.

Ask your police and fire departments if you need to register your system, and if there are fines for responding to false alarms.

You can cancel the deal.  The FTC’s Cooling-Off Rule gives you three business days to cancel if you sign a contract in your home or anywhere that is not the seller’s permanent place of business – even if the system has already been installed.  You don’t have to give a reason for canceling.

For more information, see the FTC’s “Knock, Knock, Who’s There? Want to Buy a Home Security System?” at www.ftc.gov .

Thanks for listening to the Informed Consumer. For more information on this topic or if you feel that you’ve been a victim of a scam, please contact the Consumer Affairs Branch at 703-222-8435 or visit our web site at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/consumer. Informed Consumer is produced by the Fairfax County, Virginia, government.

 


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