AUSTIN (KXAN) - The home security sign in your front yard is meant to scare off intruders, but it could actually be making you a target of a scam.
Fake salesmen are going door to door posing as security company representatives and asking to come into people's homes. The scam ends up costing victims thousands of dollars.
It was on Monday evening when homeowner Maria Avila got an unexpected knock at her front door.
"Actually, he said, 'I'm with your security company we are here to do an update on your system I want to look at your box and I need to come inside your home,'" said Avila, who lives in East Austin.
But instead of letting the man inside Avila told him the salesman to come back the following day after she called her security company to verify.
TIPS TO PROTECT YOURSELF
- Check to make sure sales reps have a DPS Certified License
- Look for a company issued badge and number
- Call your security company to verify the visit.
- Never sign any documents unless the visit is verified by your security company.
It was when she called Point Security that she says she immediately knew something wasn't right. The next day, the salesman returned to her home still attempting to change her system.
"I told him I called my company and they told me they hadn't sent anyone out," said Avila. He then told me he was with another company instead."
It's a story Chris Quinn with Point Security says he hears often.
"They make their shirts, they make badges, they try to use sales techniques and unethical sales practices," said Quinn.
He says his customers are being tricked into thinking they're getting an update to their current alarm instead when they sign off on paperwork they're actually signing a contract for a separate system.
"Before you know it you're in a company issued agreement with two companies meaning you are paying two bills and it's a very big issue," said Quinn.
Point Security says while they still recommends that homeowners keep security signs in their yard to scare away intruders following several steps can also protect you from scammers.
For Avila, she says she's glad she asked all the right questions before easily becoming a victim.
"People need to be aware to not let just anyone come in no matter what they claim to be doing," said Avila.
Home burglaries typically rise during the summer months with families leaving for vacations. Experts say scammers are armed with that knowledge and are ready to act like they're going to protect you.
Winter is invading Texas with a vengeance as snow, sleet and ice were unleashed on much of northern and western sections of the state.
Caldwell County residents gathered Thursday evening to organize their fight against a proposed landfill that they say poses a hazard that they don't need.
The pastor of the Austin church attended by the teacher who was killed Thursday in Benghazi remembered him as a spiritual friend dedicated to improving the lives of others.
In just a few months, Pflugerville will be home to a new water park. It's just the latest development as the community becomes a major suburb.
Global civil rights icon Nelson Mandela, whose legacy is ending South African apartheid, has died.
A man convicted 21 years ago for engaging in ritual child abuse was released Thursday after the DA's office agreed the only physical evidence against him was faulty.