OK, another scam, probably: Free security system upgrade

I got a call at home from a woman claiming to work for GE. She said GE made my security system, and wanted to confirm that I’ve had it at least 3 years. I said how in the world would GE even know that I had a security system made by them, I didn’t buy one from GE. Anyway, she said they were offering a special promotion to give me a FREE upgrade to my system. I asked what was the promotion, then she handed me off to the closer. This one repeated they would give me a free upgrade. So I started asking a bunch of questions, like who would install it, and clearly this threw her off her script and she just kept robotically repeating her first line. Then she said all they needed was some information, and I said what kind of information. She wanted to know a lot of details about my system. I said I wasn’t going to start describing my security system to a stranger who called me on the phone and hung up.

Both speakers sounded like they were calling from boiler room operations, lots of noisy voices in the background. They also spoke good English but had foreign accents, I am going to guess Filipino.

I don’t know how they got my number, because it’s unlisted. They asked for Mister <my wife’s name>, so it wasn’t just calling all possible numbers.

OK, so this has to be a scam, but what’s their angle? I don’t think they were trying to figure out the vulnerabilities in my system so they could rob me. That’s too complicated for common house robbers. I am guessing that either it’s 1) a complete swindle where I am going to send them some money to cover the administrative fees of a “free” system and I’ll never see my money or the upgrade 2) a sales scheme where they install some shit and then switch my monitoring company. 3) something more creative that I’m not smart enough to figure out.

Probably one of the following:

[li]They install some malware on your machine, then hold you to ransom for its removal[/li][li]Same as above, but just leave it there to skim your credit card details and account credentials[/li][li]In the process of the ‘upgrade’ they discover some spurious list of ‘security issues’ that you need to pay to have removed[/li][li]Some other justification for you and your money being parted, for no tangible service provided[/li][/ul]

This is a home security system, right? I have a system at work. The equipment and installation was free with a 5 year contract for monitoring. At the end of the 5 years I considered discontinuing the monitoring (I had zero events in 5 years) and they offered to come back in and upgrade everything for free with a [del]5[/del] 2 year contract.

It was legit, but it was the monitoring company that offered it.

They didn’t just want information about your security system; they wanted access to it. Step 2 should be obvious.

Given they had your contact details, kayaker probably describes the reality. The telemarketers are attempting to get another monitoring contract. They may be looking to churn you, or, indeed, just as likely, they are acting for your current monitoring company, and it is all about a contract extension. Just very poorly handled, and done on the very cheap end of marketing. This is the problem with contracting out such things to poorly paid, and badly trained call centre workers. They only have a script, probably have little idea what it is they are actually selling, and in the gaps, you really have no way of working out what is going on.

They were trying to get you to switch security providers. Everything they were saying is bullshit.

Ding! Ding! The scam is they are security system monitoring company and are going to surreptitiously switch you to their service with its potentially large monthly fees.

The house we bought had an older system that had been disabled (and I removed the main panel from the wall). A couple of times every summer we get a guy who comes to the house and says he’s there to upgrade the equipment for free. His cards say he’s from the correct company and he’s got the previous owners’ name so it seem legit, but shouldn’t they have noticed that the thing hadn’t been turned on in years (or that it’s not connected at all)?

If the company who installed it isn’t the company monitoring it then they’d have no idea if it has been active or not.

It is most definitely an attempt to sell monitoring services.

A lot depends on the specifics of the security system, but most home systems do not contact the monitoring station unless there is a fault. And, often, the center that actually does the monitoring may not be owned by the company that bills for the monitoring. I seem to remember there are only a few number of monitoring stations in the US, but dozens of companies that sell monitoring.

I wonder what their “Free Upgrade” consists of, though. I’d guess if the existing system is tied to the Land Line, they could be upgrading it to use either cellular or internet technology, but that would be about it.

These comments are based on what I found out when I researched the security system that came with the house we had recently bought. I googled the make and model of my system and found a DIY forum that discussed these systems and pointed me to sites where I could not only download the user manuals, but the installation and programming manuals as well. I am now master of my own system. I found how to delete the monitoring station’s number from the system, changed the entry code number, and programmed it to call my cell phone and leave a code indicating what the alarm is. Self-monitoring it is called. I am not sure what the legality of how police would respond to a call is (the monitoring companies have [del]passed laws[/del] had laws passed intended to discourage self-monitoring), but I figure I’ll deal with that when I need to.

In my case, the free upgrade at my business involved a better battery back up for use in power outages, along with new keypads at each and a police, ambulance, siren emergency button at the front desk.

Maybe an $80 value in exchange for a 2 year monitoring contract.

/* HiJack */

Can you post the DIY forum? Wepurchased a home with a home security system pre-installed. We have zero interest in hooking it up to live monitoring but your self-monitoring system sound intriguing.

It should be emphasized that the money in home security is in monitoring contracts. It’s not surprising that a third-party operation would want to get in on the action, or that an existing security firm would offer “upgrades” in an attempt to boost their monthly income.

Having a boiler room-sounding operation trying to get your business might be a clue that a similar or even more clueless boiler room setup might actually wind up doing the “monitoring”, with minimum wage drones more interested in eating pizza and making extended cellphone calls, rather than responding to alarms.

For a business, I can see that making sense, since self-monitoring wouldn’t do you much good as most insurance carriers don’t care much for self-monitoring; you have to pay for the monitoring service anyway.

I suspect there are many, but some are really just fronts for companies selling equipment and installation services. The one I found was DoItYourself dot com (catchy name!). Look under Forums on the main page; the home security forum is a sub-forum under the Electrical and Lighting forum.

I was just like you; I had absolutely no interest in another monthly bill that would, in all likelihood, never provide a benefit equal to its cost. Several months after moving in, however, the alarm starting going off by itself for something like 5 minutes every day. I found that forum when I was trying to figure out what was going on. It turned out to be the battery in the battery backup was going south and needed to be replaced. As a result, I found out a whole lot about my security system (and now have a complete set of manuals for it).
/* /HiJack */

Reading my OP, I see it may not have been clear–yes, it is a home security system, sorry if that threw anybody.

I didn’t get into all this but when they called they asked for Mister Unusualname. That is my wife’s last name. The security system is billed in my name. We have an unlisted number but it’s my wife’s name that comes up on caller ID, so that’s how the unlisted number is listed, if you follow me. The point is that whoever called me got our number from a list they bought somewhere. There were just going fishing–I’m sure they had no idea of whether I even have a home security system.

The caller ID was a little odd, the name came up as V22218055200047 and the phone number was local, but when I called it back (suppressing my own caller ID) it was out of service.

OK, this is starting to make some sense. It was a cold call.

They bought your number from someone, who knows who. They made a guess you have a home security system. I’d bet that 90% of the home security systems are made by either GE or Honeywell (they’re often re-branded). So, assuming they have someone who has a home security system (it would have been a short call if you didn’t have one), there is a good chance it was made by GE or that the homeowner doesn’t know who made it. Even if you said it was a Honeywell, they probably would have either tried to bluff by saying it was a re-branded GE unit or by saying GE bought out Honeywell Home Security.

Most new installs come with a multi-year contract to the initial installer to cover the cost of the equipment. I suspect this contract has a cancellation fee similar to a cell phone contract. That’s why they asked if it was more than 3 years old.

They were asking the specifics about your system because they really don’t know anything about it. They obviously can’t ask you who the manufacturer is, so they ask other questions about it so they can narrow down what system you have so they can know what kind of “upgrade” they can offer.

Their scam is to sell you monitoring, nothing more nefarious than that. The wholesale cost for home monitoring is something like $7-$9/mo. You can find monitoring companies on-line for less than $15/mo. The big names in home security charge in the $30-$40/mo range. So, depending on what you are currently paying, they can make $20-$30/month from you, undercut your current provider, and only cost them the cost of a service call and a few dollars worth of upgrade equipment (the improved capacity battery is one I should have thought of. When I had to replace my battery, I think the old battery was an 4 Amp-Hr battery and the replacement was 7 Amp-Hr. It cost $27 retail from Interstate, Amazon sells them for $17).

Ah, I completely missed the target here. Though you were talking about security software on a computer system. My bad.

This is marketing, not really a scam. If you said you had a GE system, they would say that they can upgrade it with a new system for a loyal customer. If you said you had a competing system, they would say they would upgrade it to a GE system because they want you to have the industry’s best protection. If you say you have no system, they would say that they will upgrade your home security by installing a GE system at low or no cost. It turns out that the GE system they offer is the solution to every home security problem. Of course, you only get the upgrade with the monitoring contract. The OP threw the script for a loop because he wouldn’t tell the telemarketer what type of system he had so they didn’t know which next line to use.

And I’m guessing the telemarketer couldn’t tell you who would install it because she doesn’t know. The telemarketers are likely fishing for leads of people who are amenable to upgrading their home security. They will sell the hot leads to independent GE security system installers who will then push the system and monitoring contract on you. Whether that in fact upgrades your current system is completely unknown to them.

And I wonder if she actually said she worked for GE, or whether she just asked a question like “Would you be interested in a GE home security upgrade?” This suggests that she works for GE without saying it.

About every summer I get a door-to-door home security salesman trying to offer me a free system for my house. Their pitch is usually that they want to give me a free system in return for letting them put a “protected by ACME” 8x10 sign in my front yard because my house is apparently in a ‘great location’ for advertising:rolleyes:.
They don’t like to mention the monitoring fees up front.
I usually blow them off by telling them I’ll be moving in a few months.