BBB: Summer Means Alarm System Scams

by Trish Powell
Better Business Bureau

It seems every summer we get complaints at the Better Business Bureau from consumers against burglar alarm system companies. In fact, over the past 12 months, nearly 90 complaints have been filed against these businesses in my BBB's service area. The most common concerns involve homeowners who felt they were subjected to high-pressure sales tactics and felt deceived by the salesperson into buying an expensive alarm system.

Many times, the salesperson will say there is a limited offer or that the price is for in-home sales in order to make you feel compelled to purchase the equipment right away. Unfortunately, it is common for consumers to find out later that those discounts were not included in their contract or that additional charges, such as monitoring fees, were not disclosed to them before they made the purchase.

Because an alarm system can be a complicated purchase, you should take the time to look over the contract before signing. Make sure it includes the installation price, monthly price, length of the contract and any discounts promised. Remember, a trustworthy individual should have no problem with handing you their business card so you can contact them the next day. Additionally, keep these tips in mind before doing business with any door-to-door salesperson.

  • Ask them to confirm their business is registered and licensed. A reputable business should be registered with the Texas Secretary of State. In addition, door-to-door solicitors must have a permit from the Midland police department. Ask the salesperson to provide this information before doing business with them.

  • Research the company with BBB before making a purchase. Visit and look up the company's BBB Business Review to see any complaints or advertising issues they may have. If you have a smart phone, you can visit to access the company's report while the salesperson is standing at your door.

  • Remember the "Three-Day Cooling-Off Rule." The Federal Trade Commission's Three-Day Cooling-Off Rule gives you 3 days to cancel purchases over $25 that are made in your home. Along with a receipt, the salesperson should give you a cancellation form that you can send to the company to cancel the purchase within 3 days. By law, the company must give you a refund within 10 days of receiving the cancellation notice.

For consumer information, BBB Business Reviews on charities and businesses, to schedule a guest speaker or to file a complaint, visit Better Business Bureau online at or call 563-1880.

Trish Powell is the Regional Director of Better Business Bureau serving Central, Coastal, Southwest Texas and the Permian Basin.