Home Security Reviews, Scams and Other Things To Know
It's no secret that home security is one of the most important investments you can make in your new home, particularly if you live in one of the many areas where crime is on the rise. But how can you make sure that the home security system you're buying and the company you're contracting with is on the up and up? What do you do when the people who are supposed to be looking out for you are the ones trying to cheat you out of your hard-earned money?
Keep an eye out for these red flags when you're shopping for your alarm system. Check home security reviews...read the fine print, and if you see any of the following phrases pop up, you might want to consider looking elsewhere.
1. Early Termination Fees
The concept of early termination fees is well known in the mobile phone and cable industries, but this practice is starting to creep into home alarm industry, as well. It's when the company penalizes you for canceling your service before the term of your contract is up. The idea isn't necessarily unfair in and of itself (companies do have expenses to cover). But you should understand what those fees total and how long you were originally committed.
An obvious thing to look out for is whether the terms of the contract extend beyond the amount of time you'll be spending in your home. For example, if you're renting, don't sign a three-year contract. Even if you've crossed your t's and dotted your i's, you still have to be vigilant. Early termination penalties can be so exorbitant that they essentially lock you into a contract ad infinitum, preventing you from perhaps switching to a competitor or just canceling your service outright. Even if, for example, your home security company fails to provide its service, is unreachable or the system fails, you could be stuck if a disputable company gets ahold of your bank information.
2. Unfair Rate Increases
Rate increases in the middle of a contract are another thing certain home security companies have adopted from phone and Internet providers. You may think you're getting a great deal on your monthly bill, but look a little more closely—that rate you're paying right now might only be for the first year. Or six months. Or two.
After a certain amount of time you might even see your monthly rate double, or triple—and since you're locked into a contract (perhaps one with an early termination fee), there's not a whole lot you can do about it. Again, read the fine print, or talk with your sales representative about it. If they say the rates will never go up for the duration of the contract, make sure you get it in writing, or record the conversation. You'll want hard evidence to fall back on if you ever have to challenge them on it.
3. Unnecessary Equipment Upgrades
So you've checked over your contract again and again, and there's nothing about any early termination fees or possible rate increases. You're not in the clear yet—does it mention anything about equipment upgrades?
Another way certain companies find for foisting new costs onto the consumer is through mandatory "upgrades" to their equipment, forcing you to pay out of pocket to replace equipment that's brand-new. They might even give you the original devices at a lower-than-expected cost at the outset of your agreement, only to hit you with much heavier prices when you're forced to upgrade later down the line. As always, be vigilant.
4. Anything But FREE
This is probably the most popular scam out there: The FREE Security System. Although it sounds appealing, “free” is a just a substitute for “financed.” In some cases, a home alarm company will offer a free system only to charge you a higher monthly rate once the system is installed. Problem is: you’ll ultimately pay much that if you would have just purchased it outright in the first place. Check out our blog post about how to ABSOLUTLEY overpay for monitoring!
Case in point:
- Let’s say that you want a security system installed and you think that you’ll be in your house for at least 3 years.
- Figure an average system costs about $500.00 plus around $18.50 / month for monitoring:
- That's: $500 + (18.50 x 36) = $1166.
- Enter the FREE offer, but they’ll charge you $100 for an “installation fee” and monitoring is $42.99 / month for 3 years.
- Their cost: $100 + $1547.64= $1647.64 – Which a far cry from $1166! Which would you rather pay? (and we didn't even address the equipment!)
- The "Don’t Get Scammed" Takeaway: Always be vigilant when shopping for alarm companies. There ARE honest companies out there, but you need to be an educated consumer to get the best price. Check out the home security reviews online - and READ them!
Have More Security Questions?
Hiring a great security company and saving money can both be accomplished if you know what you're looking for! That's why SHIELD has put together the ultimate security system buying guide for you to use when looking for security service provider. The best part is that this guide is absolutely free! Simply click the button below to download your free copy today!