Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Security? More Like Insecurity

This evening while I was making dinner there was a knock at the door. The kids ran to answer it (like the defiant children that they are) as I followed yelling at them for opening the door. It was a man with a security company, Security Solutions I believe it was, owned by General Electric.

The man said I was referred by the neighbor who was having this system installed at no cost and he would like to do the same for me. I would just be an advertising house. They would install the system and put a sign in my yard. I would just have to pay a low cost of $30 per month. I was prepared to turn him away until he said it would be of no upfront cost and I thought it would be a good idea to have a security system (one that would move with us) considering we have five kids that we would like to keep safe.

He said all I had to do was see if I qualified. He would have to call "whoever" and make sure we could get it set up. His phone wasn't working (or so he says) and he would need to use my phone. He called the number and asked for my information... name, phone number, address. Then he asked for my birthday. I gave it to him, knowing what the next question would be. He asked for my social security number.

Nope, sorry, no can do. He replies to the lady on the other end of the line, "She doesn't feel comfortable giving out that information for some reason. We will just have to find someone else." As if I had no valid reason for not giving a strange man my social security number and he thought he might be able to guilt-trip me into giving it to him. I drew the line there. I did not go out seeking him, he came to me. How easy would it be to slap together some information on a security system and tag it with a GE logo?! I probably said too much to him as it was... there was no way I was offering up the rest of the information to steal my identity.

Call me paranoid, but as I drove by the neighbors I did not see the sign he said they were installing (it was dark though, I will check again in the morning) and I saw a man sitting outside in his truck. I think it was the same guy (two hours later) but he was gone when I came back from circling the block. As I got back home I had paranoia sneak up on me... I thought I would come home to a murder scene. Obviously I didn't, but I sure am going to keep an eye out for anything suspicious and enroll my dog in attack dog classes.


C. Beth said...

Okay, here's MY opinion on what happened:

I think he was probably genuine but the "advertising house" thing is A TOTAL LOAD OF CRAP. $30 a month is a normal amount to pay for security, and MANY companies will give you the free system if you'll sign up for monthly monitoring, with a contract (probably 3 years). He may not have gotten to the contract part, but trust me--he was getting there. Clark Howard (a consumer advocate) says you shouldn't pay that much per month, but we do because we use Brinks and they are highly rated for customer service, etc.

They probably do check credit (and need the SSN to do it) because they want to make sure you are going to stick with the contract since they are installing the system at no cost. That being said, I am glad you didn't go with this guy for three reasons:

1. We had a bad experience with a security company that had horrible record-keeping; they still owe us almost $300. So I'm glad we're now with Brinks, who seems to have great service and a great reputation.

2. While his story is plausible and PROBABLY true, you had no way of knowing since he just showed up at your door. It would be better to call a reputable company YOURSELF (Brinks!!) and ask them what sort of specials they're offering, and then you know the guy who comes to your door is the real thing.

3. His total BS story about "just an advertising house" leaves a very bad taste in my mouth regarding their marketing methods. I'd prefer to go with an upfront company who says, "Here's what we'll do; here's what you'll pay; here's how long the contract is."

If you do get a security company, they may try to "upsell" you on things like fancy fire alarms, window breakage alarms, etc. Do your research first to decide what you really want to buy. Our Brinks guy was awesome and low-pressure, but that was just his personality. Some of them are going to be more high-pressure and may use scare tactics to get you to drop an extra grand on extra equipment.

We like having a security system; DH travels some and I especially like it when he's gone. But I'd be very hesitant when an unknown company came to my door putting on the hard sell like this guy did.

Sorry for the uber-long comment. :)

Tiffany said...

Seems shady and there is no way in heck I'd give my SSN to some guy who just showed up - one thing if I call you and make an appt but not for just some dude coming to my house. I don't even give wyatts SSN to my aunts and uncles when they buy him bonds! Gotta gaurd that!

mommyslittleblog said...

I think youe instincts were dead on! Good call, I hope if something like this ever happens to us, I will be as smart. Thanks for sharing and keeping us aware!

Bri said...

Thanks guys! He could have been serious, but come on, do people really give out their social security number to strangers at the door? He was nuts to think I would just do that. Id rather hand him cash and get ripped off than have my identity stolen.