Consumer Alert: Scammers targeting home security systems - Cleveland 19 News Cleveland, OH

Consumer Alert: Scammers targeting home security systems

Some home security systems may be scams. (Source: Raycom Media) Some home security systems may be scams. (Source: Raycom Media)
(WOIO) - Alarm systems are supposed to keep you safe, but they also may make you a target for scammers. A woman wants to warn others after her elderly father-in-law was duped by con men who claimed he needed to update his home security system.

William Burnette said he feels safe in his home, but a recent knock at the door rattled his nerves. Men showed up claiming to be with his alarm company, but he later found out, none of it was true.

"Be careful who you let in your house," the 85-year-old said.

The men at the door claimed they were there to upgrade his existing system. 

"What they were actually doing is taking the system I had out and putting their system in," he explained.

By the time he realized he had been fooled, the men had already ripped out his alarm system and installed their own. When his daughter-in-law, Susan, got word of what happened, she quickly started working to fix what had happened. 

"From what I understand, this is a scam that is done, especially with the elderly. Companies ride around the neighborhood and look for signs in the front yard for an alert system," Susan Burnette said.

Those con artists not only took out Burnette's system, they also got him to sign a contract. He had no clue what was going on.

His family hopes his story will be a warning to other seniors. 

"Beware of signing any contracts if you are not sure about the company. Make sure you protect your identity and that you alert other people to this," Susan Burnette said.

Always be skeptical when an uninvited guest shows up to your door. If you do let them in, always ask them to show you identification, make sure you get a business card and their contractor's license number, and never sign a contract right away.

For the Burnette family, this has a good ending. 

Susan contacted the other company. She says no one responded to her after that initial call, but it did eventually remove its system. When the real alarm company found out what happened, it sent crews to reinstall the original alarm system free of charge. 

"It is just a shame what some companies will do to get business," Susan Burnette said.

As a precaution, she changed all her father's banking information because he gave it to the other company. 

If you have elderly family members, talk to them about giving out any personal information or allowing strangers into their homes. 

Another safety tip: If a company shows up unannounced claiming to be with your existing security company, don't take their word for it. Call your company to verify it.

Find more information on this type of scam from the FTC.

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