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Alarm system scams: Be on alert

The purpose of home security systems is to provide peace of mind in the event of a break-in or other emergency. Your BBB offers tips to help select a trustworthy alarm system company.

Alarm system scam artists could be lurking in your neighborhood going door to door trying to part you from your hard-earned cash. For example, your BBB received a call last spring from a consumer being solicited at home by a salesperson, wearing a badge, claiming the consumer’s alarm system would stop working in 90 days, unless the consumer allowed the salesperson to install a chip as a back-up unit for a discounted price of $600. In this case, the consumer did the right thing and asked the scam artist to leave. Your BBB contacted the consumer’s alarm company and it had never heard of such an offer.

Over the last year, your BBB has recorded more than 461,000 inquiries and almost 6,000 complaints about the alarm system industry nationally. Locally, your BBB received about 800 inquiries.

Your Better Business Bureau offers tips when searching for an alarm company:

• Deal with reputable companies. Don’t be pressured into buying anything you don’t want or need. Reputable companies will give you time to make a wise decision.

• Never let strangers inside your home. Talk to them through the door, if at all.

• Look for identification, such as a business logo, business card or vehicle signage.

• Ask for references, so you can check to see if customers are happy with the company.

• Get quotes from at least three alarm companies.

• Get everything in writing (price, warranty, conditions, etc.).

• Be wary if you’re asked for cash upfront.

• Beware of fast talkers. They will start filling out orders before you’ve even made up your mind.

• Ask if the alarm system company belongs to any professional organizations like the Electronic Security Association (ESA).

Remember, in Ohio, we have the protection of the Ohio Home Solicitation Sales Act. This protects you from high-pressure, door-to-door sales of $25 or more with a three-day cooling-off period in which the contract can be cancelled. For more information about the Ohio Home Solicitation Sales Act, visit

If you have any questions regarding alarm system companies, get help from your BBB, such as a list of more than 20 BBB Accredited alarm companies and reviews on ones you’re considering. Visit or call (937) 222-5825 or (800) 776-5301.

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