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Call Kurtis: What You Need To Know Before You Sign An Alarm Monitoring Contract

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Eight-time Emmy Award winner Kurtis Ming is CBS13's consumer...
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A North Highlands viewer thinks an alarm company targeted her mom. When she says a fast talking door to door salesman talked her mother into a five year contract, she called Kurtis. Our viewer says her elderly mom didn’t know what she was getting into. It turned out to be a 60-month, $3,180 contract. And we learned her case might not be isolated.

“Oh, very angry! That’s why I called you,” said Dorothy Vranesic.

She’s angry over the way she says her mom, Noriko Steinert was talked into a home alarm contract by a door-to-door salesman from Vision Security.

Vranesic says she came home in March and found a worker replacing her mom’s alarm panel.

“I said, ‘What are you paying for this?’ And she didn’t know,” recalls Vranesic.

She found the contract her mom signed that would have locked her into new alarm service at $53 a month for five years.

“I guess I don’t really understand the details in the first place,” said Steinert.

Steinert says the salesman started his pitch by telling her how her neighborhood was dangerous. She says she told him her daughter handles the finances, but his sales pitch continued and drew her in with an offer of free medical alert pendants.

“I think she was targeted, seeing that she was older. She specifically asked for them to wait for the daughter for consultation and he pushed her along,” said Vranesic.

Steinert’s story isn’t unique. The Better Business Bureau has 250 complaints in the past three years against Vision, many of which consumers allege they’re misled into signing contracts.

One consumer wrote, “Sales rep came to our door claiming to be from our current alarm company. He lied about several things regarding who he was and who he was with.”

Another wrote, “It is my contention vision security is a shady company using lies to get people to switch their security service.”

Russ Heimerich, from the state’s Department of Consumer Affairs hasn’t looked into Steinert’s specific case, but says he’s noticed a similar pattern in the industry overall.

“That’s what they’re there to do most of the time is to sell those alarm monitoring contracts. And unfortunately, a lot are using deceptive practices to do that,” said Heimerich.

He says some companies target neighborhoods with senior citizens and homeowners displaying alarm signs outside.

“Because what they’ll do then is say, ‘I’m from the alarm company’ and people will think it’s from their alarm company and that’s not always the case. In fact, it’s very seldom the case,” said Heimerich.

We contacted Vision, asking them about their sales practices but they didn’t respond. Vranesic was able to cancel her mom’s contract with vision within the three day window that’s required by California law.

“We came out pretty much unscathed and I’m pretty happy about that. But I wanted to make sure other people know that this is a great possibility that can happen to them without realizing it,” said Vranesic.

The BBB tells us vision has resolved a majority of their complaints.

If an alarm salesman comes knocking on your door one of your first lines of defense can be asking for their license from the State’s Bureau of Security and Investigative Services. If he or she can’t produce it, Heimerich says tell them to leave.

Heimerich also says this is going to be a bigger problem as we approach summer because many of these companies hire college students who are on break.

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