Residents across the state of Texas are increasingly falling victim to misleading salespersons from unlicensed alarm companies, according to a statement issued Monday by the Texas Burglar and Fire Alarm Association.
Utilizing door-to-door sales, these companies and their salespersons dupe homeowners into purchasing a long-term monitoring contract laden with hidden fees.
"I donâ€™t think this is an issue specific to Texas. I think this is going on all over the country," said Chris Russell, president of TBFAA, adding that there have been similar incidents reported in other states.
"Basically, homeowners are not familiar with the requirements of operating an alarm company in the state of Texas. When (theses sales people) go door-to-door, I think there are some deceptive practices going on," Russell said. "I believe that the reports are that theyâ€™re showing up in major equipment manufacturerâ€™s shirtsâ€¦ eluding that they are an alarm company and that they are (offering) an upgrade or free replacementâ€¦ to replace the alarm system, sign a new contract with them and then theyâ€™re gone."
In Texas, alarm companies are required to register with the Texas Department of Public Safety Private Security Bureau.
For residents in that state, Russell recommends that they ask for a salespersonâ€™s identification issued by the DPS before deciding to purchase or change their alarm system. For those outside of Texas, Russell says that people who feel theyâ€™ve been victimized by one of these schemes should contact their state attorney generalâ€™s office.
In a separate press release posted on the DPS' Web site, Private Security Bureau Capt. RenEarl Bowie said that he also urges those considering hiring an alarm company or installer to check and see if they are licensed by the state.
The PSB has reportedly initiated investigations in Houston and San Antonio following numerous reports of unlicensed salespersons pitching alarm systems in those cities.
"Things like this kind of give every industry a black eye and this is definitely no exception for us. Thatâ€™s true all over the country," Russell said.