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6 Tips to Help Avoid Door Knocking Scams

‘Tis the season for door-to-door sales, and with it, door knocking scams. Over the last couple of years, we’ve started to see more reports about security company door knocking scams. These scams occur when a representative shows up at your door claiming to be from your security company and says they need to upgrade your system. Or, they’ll say their security company bought out your security company.

This can lead to you being double billed or unknowingly signing on with a different company, potentially costing you thousands of dollars once you are locked into a contract with monthly monitoring and large cancellation fees.

With this in mind, we’ve gathered an easy list of do’s and don’ts for when a door-to-door security salesperson knocks on your door.

DO

Ask the salesperson to show you company I.D. and branded marketing materials. You can also take a look to see if they are driving a marked company vehicle. Any sales rep should have business cards, flyers or brochures with company branding on them. Additionally, many salespeople have company issued I.D.s with them, featuring their name, a photo and the company information. When in doubt, you can always ask to see these items.

DON’T

Feel pressured to sign anything on the spot.  You should have time to thoroughly read any document you sign and research the company before signing into a contract. Additionally, read the language carefully as you’re looking through the contract. Look for company branding and clear, specific mention of what company you’re signing a contract with.

DO

Call the security company’s number to verify they have a rep in the area if you are in doubt. Simply look up the company’s official number if you don’t know it and call to speak with a customer service department. They should be able to tell you who is out in the field. Additionally, they can possibly track their representative’s location to confirm you are talking to an authorized representative.

DON’T

Let the salesperson or technician into your home without a confirmed appointment. Your security company should prearrange and confirm any security system repairs or installs with you in advance. Don’t let anyone cut into your wall without a confirmed appointment — this is a tactic used to pressure people into signing with a scam-my company.

DO

Know your rights. State law allows everyone a 3 day “cooling off period,” in which you can cancel your contract 3 days after signing from a door-to-door sale. Read more about the cooling off period here.

Remember that you can call us any time at (503)207-5300, or call your local police department’s non-emergency line if you have someone at your door who is being aggressive or who is refusing to leave. All First Response employees in the field have company issued I.D. to identify themselves and drive a marked vehicle. Our goal is to provide you peace of mind and a higher standard of customer service — and that means we won’t use pressure you to decide on the spot.

Spring Clean Your Security

Ah, spring. The blossoms are blooming, the allergies are hitting, and the sun is making a (more frequent) guest appearance in our lives again. And if it hasn’t already, the urge to furiously clean and declutter everything might have already hit you. While Marie Kondo-ing your home is great and all, when was the last time you cleaned up your security? Check out our simple tips below for spring cleaning  your cyber, home or business security this spring.

Inside Your Property

  • Change out the batteries on your smoke and CO detectors, and test them to make sure they’re working properly. While you’re at it, inspect your fire extinguisher to ensure it is in good condition.
  • Test out your alarm system and update emergency contacts, if needed.
  • Inspect your doors and windows to make sure all locks are still working properly.
  • Replace your furnace filters — not only will this help with those pesky pollen allergies, it will help keep the filter free and clear of accumulation that could lead to a fire.

Outside Your Property

  • Clean your security cameras and light fixtures and replace any light bulbs that have gone out.
  • Maintain your landscaping — make sure to trim bushes and trees near windows back to leave potential thieves nowhere to hide.
  • Check your security signs and stickers. Are they looking a little old and sun faded? Call your security company to get new ones. In one study, more than 60% of convicted burglars said that signs of a security system would make them reconsider robbing the house.
  • Perform your own security audit outside your property. If you were going to rob it, how would you do it? Check the points of entry you would try yourself and see how difficult they would be to get through. Then, make any upgrades as necessary.

Cyber Security

  • Delete what you no longer use. This includes unused apps on your phone, emails you’re no longer interested in being subscribed to and old emails and files you don’t need any more.
  • Make sure your software is updated on your devices and your router. This should happen on a frequent basis as it is, but if you’ve been putting off, now is the time.
  • Review your passwords and ensure you have unique passwords. Consider using an online password manager like LastPass to help with this and create as strong of passwords as possible – see tips from Wired on how to do so.
  • Safely get rid of your old computers/phones/floppy disks, etc. View a list of local computer recycling sites in the Portland area here.

 

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5 Simple Tips for a Safe Winter

You know the security basics — having a security system, posting your security signs and stickers, keeping your property clean and landscaped and having good lighting. But with the colder, rainier weather comes a whole new set of winter safety tips and security measures to consider.

We’ve gathered a list of some easy items to check off your list to help keep your property secure in these longer, darker and rainier months.

Clean your video surveillance camera lenses

Weather happens. Dust collects. Spiders settle in. All of these factor into the visibility of your security camera lens. And since the whole purpose of the camera is to be able to see what’s going on (or what has gone on), keeping the camera lens clean is essential. To clean your surveillance camera lens, try the following:

  • Use a soft brush to gently clear away any dirt or debris on the camera lens and around the camera exterior. If there is a significant amount of buildup on the lens, try washing it with warm water
  • Then, take a microfiber cloth and rub it over the lens to remove any remaining build up

If you have any questions about surveillance camera maintenance for your interior or exterior camera, refer to your camera’s User Manual or feel free to give us a call any time at (503)207-5300.

Inspect batteries in your smoke and CO detectors and alarm system sensors and clean around them

So you weren’t pulled out of your precious REM cycle at 2:30 am this year by the chirp on your smoke detector telling you it’s time to change your battery – that’s great. But as time creeps on, the battery on your smoke and CO slowly drain and it’s important to test them regularly to ensure they are in good working order.

An easy trick to make sure they are always powered properly? Check on the batteries in your CO and smoke detectors during daylight savings when you move your clocks forward or backwards. In addition, it’s always a good idea to keep the area around these devices clean and dust free to ensure their sensors work at maximum efficiency.

Not sure how to check your battery life? Check out our Tech Tip video on it here. For older devices, a good rule of thumb is to gently twist the cover and replace the battery when the cover comes off.

Check your property for any water damage or warping

Before the great Oregon rain officially arrives and stays for the next six months straight, it’s a good idea to walk your property inside and out to check for water damage and other issues that might impact not only your property, but how your security system works with your property.

Water damage or warping can cause alarm sensors to move or cease working, leaving weak spots in your security system. Catching this damage soon after it happens is integral in ensuring your door and window sensors still work properly and remain where they were originally installed.

Common signs of water damage include stains, discoloration, material separation and mold or mildew smells. If you think water has damaged your security system, call your security provider to have a technician review the situation.

Consider a video doorbell to monitor packages

Did you know that 30% of Americans report that they’ve had a package stolen at some point? It seems like package thieves are in the news every few months in the Portland area,  preying on unattended porches to snag packages before the owner is any the wiser. Video doorbells can quickly put a stop to that — or at least give you the peace of mind of knowing who is at your door.

With a video doorbell like the Skybell, you simply have it installed in place of your regular doorbell, download an app on your smartphone and wa-lah! You receive notification any time someone comes to your porch — with live video — and have the ability to communicate directly with them. And should someone run away with that perfect gift you found for your kids, rest assured that the app has the footage recorded and ready to send to the authorities.

Prepare in advance for emergencies

If the memory of being stuck in 4+ hours of traffic during the snowpocalypse 2 years ago isn’t enough to encourage you to stock up on emergency supplies, we aren’t sure what is. Make sure to have food, water and an up-to-date emergency kit stashed in your car, as well as in a safe place in your house before the foul weather hits.

A basic car emergency kit includes:

  • Battery operated flashlights and a radio
  • Extra batteries for these devices
  • A First Aid kit
  • Fire Extinguisher
  • Road flares
  • Jumper cables
  • Tarp
  • Cat litter or sand for slick, icy roads
  • A blanket or extra warm clothing

But of course, customize to suit your needs — an extra phone charger in your car may be useful, or maybe extra baby formula if you have a newborn.

While it can be difficult to prepare for everything Oregon’s winter season may throw your way, we hope these winter safety tips will help. For more information about  securing your home or property for winter, or with any questions about services First Response offers, give us a call at (503)207-5300.

About First Response

Founded in 1989 and headquartered in Beaverton, First Response Security is one of the largest privately owned security companies in Oregon. Our commitment to “A Higher Standard’ enables us to deliver the client service we believe you deserve.