Home Security Scams

firstlineRecently, ABC7 News in San Francisco ran stories about a Utah-based security firm, Firstline Security, using a new version of an old and wide-spread, security industry sales tactic/trick. The pitch has a few variations, but is typically some version of a salesperson offering homeowners a “free” alarm system in exchange for allowing the company to put a sign in their front yard.

Not satisfied with simply scamming clients, Firstline also looked to scam their own employees… by creating a fake reality show called ‘The Prodigy’. The company recruited on University campuses throughout the United States.

By offering a $1,000,000.00 prize, Firstline ‘hired’ several thousand college students to compete by selling ‘free’ security systems to homeowners throughout the United States.

Of course, not only was the supposed reality show a scam, so were the actual system ‘installations’. If you watch the video clips by following the links below, you may recognize that the equipment that Firstline was selling is the exact alarm that I discussed in my post ‘Why Millions of Home Alarms are Useless‘. Independent of the equipment itself being suspect, based on hundreds of consumer complaints, it appears as though many of the systems were never even connected for actual monitoring.

ABC7’s first story talked about the fake reality show and can be seen by clicking here. After it aired, they received enough complaints from viewers that they did two follow-up stories.

The other segments are:

  1. Consumers get faulty alarm systems
  2. Reality Show Producer talks to ABC7

Apparently, Firstline is back recruiting on campus again for their next summertime assault.

Although the reality show spin was unique, the pitch of “we’ll give you a free alarm system if you let us put our lawn sign up” is used by hundreds of companies all over the US and Canada. The companies who offer the ‘free’ system are most often selling the signed contract to a third party, normally ADT, Monitronics, or another large security firm that purchases bulk accounts. In this case mentioned above, Firstline was selling the contracts to Monitronics in Texas.

It sounds like Firstline figured that in order to really ramp-up sales, they were going to need to simultaneously scam consumers as well as the employees selling to them.

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