Consumer Alert: Texas Attorney General Cautions Texans to Protect Themselves against Door-to-Door Scams
AUSTIN August 10, 2013 – During the summer months, door-to-door salespeople may become more frequent in neighborhoods across Texas. One particularly common door-to-door sale involves security systems. Texans may get a knock on their doors from individuals claiming to be selling security systems or components, or claiming to work for their security system companies conducting tests or making repairs or upgrades. Some door-to-door salespersons may be legitimate, but others may use deceptive tactics to make a sale, taking advantage of trusting Texans in the process. Texans who find themselves answering the door for a salesperson claiming to sell security systems, components, or stating that a system needs to be tested, upgraded or replaced should protect themselves by following these guidelines:
• Ask for identification. Door-to-door sellers of alarm systems must be registered with the Texas Department of Public Safety’s (DPS) Private Security Board and are required to carry and present a DPS issued “pocket” identification registration which will include the salesperson’s photo, company name and address.
• Protect personal information. Texans should not provide the door-to-door salesperson with personal information about themselves or family members and should not describe their security system or acknowledge the existence – or nonexistence – of a security system.
• Texans should call their current security system provider’s customer service number to verify whether they sent a representative to their home.
• Don’t be pressured into making a quick decision. Some door-to-door salespeople may be aggressive and claim that Texans “must-act-now” to qualify for “free” equipment or a big discount. Instead, homeowners should check with their security system provider before making any immediate purchases or upgrades or signing any paperwork.
• Before signing anything, Texans should do their homework. Check the DPS website to confirm the company is licensed and take the time to check references. Get bids from at least two licensed companies and consider different security system options before making a decision.
• Texans should spread the word and warn their neighbors, friends and family in the area about the door-to-door salesperson if they believe it is a scam – and report their experience to local law enforcement. For safety reasons, many counties and cities require door-to-door sellers to register before they go door-to-door.
• Check with the Better Business Bureau for complaints against the company.
• Texans have the right to cancel. Under Texas law, a door-to-door seller must advise both orally and in writing of the right to cancel the sale within three business days. The door-to-door seller must also provide a contract or receipt stating the date of the sale, the name and address of the merchant, and a statement of the consumer’s right to cancel the contract, which includes the address where the purchaser can send a cancellation notice. Texans should not sign a contract that contains any blanks or is undated and should always keep a copy of anything they do sign or initial.
Texans who think they are the victim of a scam can file a complaint with the Office of the Attorney General by calling the Consumer Complaint Hotline at (800) 252-8011 or filing a complaint online at www.texasattorneygeneral.gov.
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