Security scam victim: 'Be very cautious, do your homework'

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Alarm systems are a way of stopping thieves from coming into your home, but what about the thieves you sometimes let right in through your front door?

Last June Dale Meredith of Cottonport, La, was targeted by a group of people posing as employees of his alarm company.

"They were actually going too fast, for my comfort," Meredith said.

The group claimed he needed a new system not once but twice, however, Meredith started asking questions the salesman couldn't answer.

"At that point, he was uncomfortable enough that I think he was more than glad when I told him he needed to leave my home," he said.

Thankfully Meredith stopped the shady salesman in his tracks, but James Bourg from Geismar wasn't as quick on his feet.

"He told me ADT was neglecting its responsibilities and going through to replace my alarm panel," Bourg explained.

Bourg signed a contract and got a new alarm system installed, but something didn't seem quite right, so he called his alarm company. Bourg was told they "had never heard of the guy, at all."

The system was removed, Bourg didn't lose any money an ADT restored his service.

"Be very cautious, do your homework," Bourg said.

The Louisiana State Fire Marshal's office said a quick way to spot a shady salesman is when they tell you that you "must act now" for a deal. Officials also encourage consumers to check for legitimate identification and find out if a permit is required for door-to-door sales in your area.

"Often times those selling these services are in violation of Louisiana law which prevents a client from being double encumbered, which means they may already have a service and unbeknownst to them purchased another contract," Butch Browning with the Louisiana State Fire Marshal's office explained.

"Unfortunately, most consumers who fall victim to fraud either don't know they've been ripped off or may feel helpless and just tend to live with it," said Carmen Million with the Better Business Bureau.

"Essentially people are promised certain technologies, certain capabilities and they just don't get it," Browning said.

Click here to find a reputable alarm company in your area.

Just last year the BBB said home security sales complaints ranked in the top 25 of 3,500 business categories. The BBB said the high number of complaints means people aren't asking enough questions, but their hope is that will soon change.

"Nationwide nearly 195 home security companies have a C rating or below with the BBB," Million said. "The good news is that's only a fraction of the approximate 12,000 security companies in the US and shows the large majority of security companies manage ethical trustworthy businesses," she said.

Million also advised residents if you happen to sign a contract that is over $25, you automatically have 3 days to cancel.

However, you must cancel by sending a certified letter, Million said, "Verbal doesn't mean anything."

Browning suggests if you are in need of an alarm system to "shop like you do anything else." "You don't want the cheapest alarm. You want the alarm that fits your needs. You want a company that's local, that will service your problems and I think you shop this like you shop anything else," he said.

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