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Recent complaints regarding high-pressure sales agents going door-to-door selling security alarms have prompted law enforcement to warn residents to beware of non-reputable sales “house calls”. In many cases the people presenting themselves as alarm company sales agents are using the role to scam unsuspecting homeowners into buying pricey security systems they don’t need or even worse, they are setting the stage to commit crimes such as burglary. The summer months tend to bring an increase in the activity.

The complaints involve non-reputable alarm companies that appear to be using sales agents to go door-to-door, aggressively pushing homeowners to buy their products, often preying on the elderly and uninformed. “The general practice is alarm companies will not use door-to-door sales tactics,” said Chief Doug Muldoon. “We want to urge the public to use caution when considering what security system sales agents have to offer, especially if they come to your front door uninvited.”

In many cases these sales agents make unsolicited “cold calls” on homeowners using high-pressure or deceptive sales tactics to get potential customers to buy expensive and sometimes substandard systems or equipment they don’t need. “It can be a real problem if people are not careful,” said Elaine Revis who manages the police department’s False Alarm Reduction Unit. “Not only could they end up buying an expensive system they don’t need, if they are not properly trained how to use it they will contribute to the greater problem of police having to respond to false alarms.” The agents use a variety of techniques and “pitches” to get people to buy an alarm system and monitoring services. These tactics may include some of the following: • Limited-time offers claiming immediate action is necessary • Offering free equipment in exchange for signing a contract • Scare tactics such as claiming a high number of residential burglaries in the neighborhood Some door-to-door sales agents target homeowners with signs on their properties for security systems with other companies. In these cases the agents may say they are there to “upgrade” or “replace” the security system. The tactic is meant to allow access to the home and ultimately get the homeowner to sign a contract. Agents may also claim the homeowner’s current alarm company went out of business and accounts are being taken over by the agent’s company. These claims should be verified by contacting the alarm company servicing your home. “Many municipalities across the country have had major problems with the ‘summer sales’ groups so we don’t want the citizens of Palm Bay to get hit by them,” Revis added. “These companies are really selling their systems too. We are being kept busy with about six to ten new registrations each day and more coming.”

Residents should always check sales agent credentials and research the business’ history and check its credentials with the Better Business Bureau (BBB). “Reputable agents must always carry an identification card that associates them with BASA (Burglar Alarm System Agent),” Chief Muldoon added. “This identification has the individual’s photo, and company license number and it means the cardholder has been fingerprinted, drug tested and completed a full background check.” There have been reported cases in Florida where burglaries and sexual batteries have occurred following a visit from one of these rogue sales agents. “Do not allow these people into your homes. Do not disclose if you have an alarm system or not,” Muldoon said. “If you have someone who refuses to leave, call the police immediately.” For more information contact the Palm Bay Police Department False Alarm Reduction Unit at 321-733-3024.

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