Summer is often the time we dust off the tool box and tackle some of those home improvement projects. Knowing that many Georgians have home improvement projects on the mind, scammers seize the opportunity to knock on your door and offer “assistance.” And, some of that assistance may come in the form of offering a security system upgrade or special offer.
“Nearly every summer we see an influx of young door-to-door salespersons who prey on EMC Security customers, or Jackson EMC members who may have security with a different company,” said Vince Raia, EMC Security President & CEO. “These sales representatives claim to represent EMC Security, or even Jackson EMC, and say they are there to upgrade your security system.”
During the visit, the scammers often present the homeowner with documents to urgently sign, claiming they are just administrative and there are no additional costs. In reality, the homeowner may be agreeing to service with a completely different company and signing a long-term, irrevocable contract with escalating fees.
Raia explained that legitimate security companies will always allow you time to review an offer for service. “Don’t be pressured into signing anything on the spot. Ask to have copies of documents to review for at least 24 hours,” he said. He added that if a company is unwilling to give you time to review an offer, or leave documents for you to review, that’s a reason to be wary.
And, while individuals normally have three days to change their mind after executing an in-home sales contract, those rights may be voided if the homeowner allows the work to be completed prior to the decision to terminate the contract.
“EMC Security will never send anyone to a customer’s home without their prior knowledge,” Raia said. “If members experience a visit like this, they should contact EMC Security and are also encouraged to call the police.”
EMC Security offers these tips on their website to help members protect themselves against scams:
Don’t let anyone into your home unless you have pre-approved the visit
Remember, if you allow an unauthorized person inside to do an “inspection” of your home, you’re virtually letting that person in to case your house. Don’t let anyone who hasn’t made an appointment into your home. If an estimate or installation needs to be done, call the business directly to make the appointment. EMC Security will never visit your home without an appointment! Call EMC Security immediately at 770-963-0305 if you feel unsafe or would like to verify the person at your door is who they say they are.
Ask for proof of ID
If anyone comes to your door telling you that they work for a security company, don’t be afraid to ask for identification. Some scam artists go to great lengths to convince you of their employment by creating false ID’s and uniforms, and it’s easy to accept their word—but don’t. You can even ask for personal identification, such as a driver’s license, to confirm their identity.
Ask for a physical address for the company
Bottom line–legitimate security companies will have a street address. If you don’t see an address listed on the sales information or brochures, ask where the company is located and get it in writing.
Avoid pushy, pressured sales pitches
A legitimate sales person will allow you to take your time to review the sales information, give you referrals, and not place pressure on you to buy. If you hear a pitch to purchase a security system that includes phrases like “today’s special price” or “one time only,” the salesperson may be trying to pressure you into signing an expensive, long-term contract.
Get a written estimate
Don’t rely on the salesperson’s word or a computer image. Get a hard copy of the written estimate of any contract that you need to review. Ask questions, and find out who will install and monitor the system.
Know your rights concerning contracts
In Georgia, contracts for sales, leases or rental goods for homes are entitled to a three day “cooling off” period, where the signee is allowed to think about their purchase and compare prices for similar goods. Check this state website for more details.