Not much is more frightening than a home invasion. Over the last several years, BBB has seen an increase in the volume of inquiries into door-to-door alarm sales companies. These calls have particularly spiked in late spring into the summer months, as this is when door-to-door alarm companies begin hitting the pavement.

“Texas law requires any person or company who provides investigations or security services in the state to be properly licensed to offer or to engage in such services”, said Mechele Agbayani Mills, President and CEO of BBB Serving Central East Texas. “To offer or provide a service without a license carries criminal penalties of up to a year in jail and hefty fines.”

BBB advises consumers to be on the lookout for the following sales tactics some unethical alarm companies use to get the deal done.

Trick # 1: The salesman in your house isn’t licensed with the state.

Always ask for their DPS Private Security pocket card, which will also have their picture. This ensures that they have gone through the proper background checks. State law requires that the installation technicians must have their license number displayed on their vehicle.

Trick # 2: Getting rid of your old equipment.

When you agree to purchase a door-to-door salesman, and you already have an existing alarm system, they will tell you that they will remove the old equipment for you. Usually it will end up in the trash. However, make sure you actually own the equipment. In some instances, the existing equipment is leased to you. So, you could be charged by your existing company for the removed equipment.

Trick #3: You have 30 days to cancel.

Numerous consumers have reported to BBB that they have been told that they have 30 days to cancel. However, the contracts that they signed say 3 days. Ultimately, you should go by what your signed contract says.

The Federal Cooling-Off Rule states that you have 3 business days to cancel a contract from a door-to-door salesman as long as the purchase is over $25. Keep in mind that Saturdays do in fact count as a business day, so your cancellation notice must be postmarked by midnight of the 3rd business day. Only Sundays and Federal Holidays are not counted as business days. A simple rule to follow is that if the mail is running, it’s a business day.

Trick #4: You’re not under any obligation to your existing alarm company.

One sales tactic used is to tell people with existing alarm systems that they aren’t under any obligation to their existing company, since their original contract has expired. This is very likely not the case at all.

The alarm industry’s standard procedure for contracts is an auto-renewal for one year after the initial contract is finished. To cancel, you must notify your existing company in writing 30 days prior to the auto-renewal date. This means that if you have an existing provider, you are most likely still under a contract. If you have a new alarm system installed, you might be stuck paying both companies until the end of the contract.

One Final Note

BBB reminds consumers not to give in to high pressure sales tactics. Remember to go to bbb.org to find an alarm company you can trust.