Security System: Phone Scam Overview
Over 2 million homeowners report having their homes robbed every year in the United States. In order to combat these robberies many communities have set up neighborhood watch programs to address burglaries. These programs have been effective in cutting down crime, but still aren't a perfect solution.
An alternative to the neighborhood watch programs is to install a home security system. Homeowners across the country have chosen to equip their house with these systems in order to have added peace of mind.
It's true that legitimate home security systems are great, however phone scammers will often call offering free home security systems that are truly too-good-to-be-true. Homeowners need to be aware of fraudulent security system offers and take measures to protect themselves.
How Does the Security System Phone Scam Work?
Criminals will take advantage of homeowners in several different ways. The caller will promise a free home security system. Of course, the systems are not actually free. The scam artist will try to get you to pay an up-front shipping fee or schedule an appointment for a "representative" to come to your house for you to sign a contract. After paying the up-front shipping fee you won't receive the security system, instead the caller will disappear and you will never hear from the security company again.
If you end up signing a contract, you will start being billed every month for a security system that is never installed. In another variation the caller may pretend to be with your local Neighborhood Watch program. They'll tell you that local burglaries are on the rise, so they're reaching out to vulnerable homeowners. They promise to monitor your home for free when you're not around. If you provide your address and times you're away, they'll use this information to break into your home.
How to Protect Yourself From the Scam
Home security scams are particularly dangerous, so you need to be especially careful. If you provide your address and other information to a caller, you may be jeopardizing your financial and physical safety if the criminals try to rob you while you aren't home. Here are some important things to keep in mind.
Don't give out your address.
Neighborhood Watch programs will never reach out asking for your address or other personal information. It's your responsibility to contact them and let them know when you'll be away if you need to have your home protected.
Check credentials before letting anyone in your door.
A criminal pretending to be with a home security company may want access to your home to see if it's worth robbing. Never let them in without checking their credentials first. Most states require professionals to show their company badge and a photo ID to homeowners before asking to be invited inside.
Review all paperwork before signing it.
Someone working for an unscrupulous security company may state that your home security system will be installed after you sign their paperwork. While the contract may guarantee you a free home security system, it also requires you to pay a monitoring fee. Read the fine print before signing anything avoid these unpleasant surprises.
How to Report the Scam
If you believe anyone in your area is trying to commit a home security scam, you should contact your local police department. Let them know if you mistakenly given out your address, because your home may be targeted for a robbery. You should also report fraudulent home security system callers to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). If you're unsure whether or not a number could be involved in phone scams you can use our free phone tracer to find out more information about a mysterious call. You can also help warn others about phone scams by leaving your feedback on phone numbers in our online phone book or caller ID app for iPhone.