Scams & Deception

You May Want to Reconsider that “Free” Security System For a Sign in Your Yard

You May Want to Reconsider that “Free” Security System For a Sign in Your Yard

You can almost set your watch by the door-to-door salesmen who seem to visit several times a year with the same sales pitch: They want to give you a “free” home security system and all you have to do is put a sign in your front yard. The “value” of the system is anywhere from $800 to $1500, depending on the salesman. While it sounds good at first glance, a closer look reveals some serious warning signs.

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Not Exactly Free

Some of the best things in life are free, but that doesn’t apply to home security systems. Many of these home security salesmen will tell you that there is a “small” monthly monitoring fee. This fee is usually about $35 to $55. There is also typically a contract involved. Should you decide to sign up, but then change your mind later, you will be hit with a big cancellation fee.  Some companies also attempt to tack on other “administrative” fees once they’ve hooked you in. In the end, this “free” system could end up costing you thousands of dollars.

Sales Tactics

Some salesmen will literally try to scare you into signing up for their alarm systems. They may even show you maps of crimes in your area, and point to statistics that show homes with security systems are safer. If you have kids, they may suggest scenarios of intruders facing your children. And of course they won’t back up these scare tactics with anything other than printouts. In a related tactic, some shady security system telemarketers have actually called implying that they are from the FBI, and imply that break-ins were occurring in the area.

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You may be told by the salesmen that they “chose” your house because of my “highly visible location” in the neighborhood. They may offer to let you have their system in hopes that a highly-visible sign will prompt some of your neighbors to sign up for their services as well. Of course they may approach every other house in your neighborhood with the same offer. Didn’t they just say your house was special?

If you tell them that you want to think about it, they’ll tell you that the offer expires today and you must act now to get their free system. Complete nonsense. If any salesman tells you that the offer expires today, don’t buy from them. Or, as one security company writes in their article on the matter, “Any alarm company that pressures you to ‘sign up now’ is sending the wrong signal.”

Bottom Line

The “free security system for a sign in the yard” ploy is usually a bait-and-switch tactic in which they come to you touting the word “free” but then ask for  you to pay. This is just one reason why so many people refuse to buy anything from door-to-door salesman, especially from fly-by-night companies with no established reputation. As one commenter on this forum so eloquently stated:

“So, basically you get a cheap alarm system; they get an expensive alarm monitoring contract.”

Updated August 11, 2015
Originally published March 2012

  • Salamander Calamander

    There could be some security monitoring company out there paying for referrals, and all these various telemarketer scam outfits are selling your referral info to that company.

    It’s also possible that for the huge monthly monitoring fee, no one does any monitoring at all, they just collect your money.

  • Jason Bowen

    Yes! Bust em!

  • Flamingo83

    I am getting calls everyday from them, The area code is never the same. Some days I try to amuse myself with the “first caller” which of course is a robo caller. They will ask how my day is and I say something that I normally wouldn’t say. Obviously they have a very sophisticated system because I can say something bad but in an upbeat voice. The caller still says that she will make the call quick. I have spoken with a live person several times and asked to be put on the do not call list of course by then, I am hung up on. I have even taken pictures of the phone number that comes across my TV, but the number is never correct for me to call anyone to report them. I am just going to ignore the calls. Believe me, if someone came to my door as a salesman, I do not go to the door.

  • laineypc

    So far they are still rolling along 3 years later. Still in business and I guess their methods are working.

  • laineypc

    The calls do not go away.

  • laineypc

    How do I stop the phone calls? I have been nice to them. They called me at 6:30 am the other day. They call me about every other day. Always from a different number. They never honor my do not call request, they just hang up. What can I do.

  • Some Guy

    Got a call today with the FBI nonsense about breakouts in the neighborhood. Call came in on my desk phone at work, so little do they know this is an industrial park not a neighborhood. Press 1 to talk to someone, press 9 to opt out. I hit 9, but if it happens again i’ll hit 1 and have some fun with them.

  • Focused1

    So, it seems to be the same recording and tactic, just different phone numbers. Any idea what company is behind this?

  • hugh gupenus

    Get this call randomly now and then and it starts off by saying something about FBI in a way that really gets your attention..like it’s a call from FBI but then goes into the bs. automated phone call that keeps coming even after putting name on do not call list. Funny thing is they don’t even say the name of their company or what kind of alarm system lol. idiots.

  • Jim

    Just got a call from GE Alarm Co. to install a free system if I put a sign in my yard. I spoke to them a little bit and told them to email all info to my gmail address. Let’s see what happens next!

    • Dave

      I hope you gave them a phony email, or at least one you don’t use very often. I just pressed 1 to talk to a human and reminded him it’s illegal to use a recording to call people in the State of Utah. He was quick…”well sir, if I’m going to take you off the list I need your credit card number.” Don’t even talk to these scumbags.

  • Brad P.

    I have been getting the phone calls from the same organization (always from a different number, but the same org.) always offering a free security system if I put a sign in my yard. I ask to be removed, I punch the right button to be removed from their call list, whatever. It does no good. So, I now either ignore them, or if I’m bored, I’ll answer and just keep asking them for details about their company. They do not want to tell you the name of or give you any info. about their company. Why? Because there is no company. They are criminals. It’s a shame that nothing can be done about this. Our government spends billions spying on us, but they can’t do anything to catch these predators and make them leave us alone.

  • Virginia

    Now that’s scary. Are you kidding me?

  • Stan N

    I get the home security robo scam calls almost daily – call registry be damned, and they do not stop when you hit the ‘opt out’ button on the phone. Nor do they stop when you wait to speak with an actual person, who will just hang up on you if complain or you ask any questions. Everyone affiliated with these companies deserves a deserves a painful rash on and/or about their privates.

  • Scam Buster

    I have been a Scam Buster for most of my life. maybe you know my work or name. I sure hope so, if not, LOOK FOR IT!

    This is indeed a twist on the classic “bait and switch” con. They offer something for free, and drive you into buying it with “scare tactics.” I’ve had this same call several times over the past year or so. (Of course my phone is registered on every possible internet offer, for the sole purpose of busting these scams.)

    They are some-what legit. You can opt. to be removed by pressing “9.” and this will make all your automated calls from them magically go away!

    Under the law, they are doing nothing “wrong,” from a legal perspective. If you decide to take their offer, or are foolish enough to fall for a “scare tactic” upgrade or contract, that’s not illegal. Because when it comes right down to it, you agreed to the terms.

    The best thing to do when you get ANY offer, free or otherwise is do some research. Look for posts about the “offer” or look for my notes on the scam.

    And remember: “if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!”

    –Scam Buster

    • waffles

      Thank you for your input Scam Buster!

      • Scam Buster

        You are welcome!!! This is why I’m here!

  • tmaster

    They have huge call centers robo calling everyone now with this same scam. Some of the calls sound like a local police dept calling to warn you about something. Very scarry. They then get into the spill you have descried.

    They call people on the do not call list. I report them every time its only a matter of time before the FTC catches them for do not call violations.

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