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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.

How to Stay Secure in 6 Easy Steps

We’ve all experienced it — you see the Nextdoor post about break ins around your neighborhood, or the broken glass outside the business down the street from yours. There is some suspicious activity going on around you, and while this can be a scary thought, there are some simple things you can do to help prevent your business or home from becoming the next target. We chatted with our team of local experts to come up with some practical security tips.

Invest in a security system. The whole purpose of a security system is to help should your property ever be targeted for theft, vandalism or other suspicious behavior, right? According to the FBI’s annual crime report, there were more than 1.5 million burglaries in the U.S. in 2016. The good news? That number is down over 25% from what it was in 2012. In a study at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte’s Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology from 2012, 60% of criminals surveyed said that an alarm presence would cause them to seek an alternative building. And if they discovered an alarm while attempting a burglary, more than half commented that they would vacate the property immediately.

Display your security company’s signs and stickers. This one goes hand in hand with investing in a security system. The same study from North Carolina noted that signs of increased security — like alarm stickers and signs from your security company, or surveillance cameras — were a deterrent when placed in windows, doors or yards where people can see them.

Keep your property well lit. Having good lighting, paired with keeping any bushes or trees near windows trimmed, can also discourage targeting due to lack of a convenient hiding place. No one wants the spotlight on them when they are up to something dubious, after all. According to a survey done by KGW last year of 86 inmates serving time for burglary in Oregon, homes with large bushes or trees and blind spots are ideal targets. Things like motion activated lights and 360 degree lighting coverage leave intruders nowhere to hide.

Know your neighbors. Make it a point to get to know the neighbors on your street. Better yet, form a neighborhood watch to keep an eye on the block and alert police if anything suspicious is happening. It also doesn’t hurt to give a trusted neighbor your contact information in case they see something odd happening around your property.

Consider video surveillance. Installing video cameras, motion activated cameras and video doorbells are all great ways to get an idea of what is happening on your property quickly, whether through a monitoring center like ours or through a convenient App on your phone. And researchers in that same UNC 2012 study found that nearly 40% of those involved with property theft said seeing a security camera would factor into their decision to go somewhere else.

Make sure you have an emergency contact list. One of the most forgotten security items is also one of the easiest! Make sure to update your emergency contact list for your alarm system on a regular basis, in case there is ever a situation when you don’t answer your phone when your alarm system is activated.