Updated: Friday, February 15 2013, 12:59 PM EST
The Asheville Police Department has become aware of a continuing scam that is causing problems for residents of North Carolina. An out-of-state organization has been making calls to residents offering free or discounted home security systems. Frequently these calls falsely imply that local police agencies are supporting or endorsing these systems. Also, many of these calls are being made in violation of the North Carolina Telephone Solicitation Act of 2003, the so-called "do not call registry".
Various false company names have been used in connection with this scam, including "First Alert Group" and "Security Technologies". First Alert is a legitimate trade name of the BRK Corporation. They sell home smoke and carbon monoxide alarms, home security systems, and fire extinguishers. BRK and its subsidiaries are not involved in telephone solicitation, and they are actively pursuing companies that misuse their brand names.
Callers representing themselves as providers of home security systems are soliciting personal information from people who indicate any interest in such a system for their home. Persons who have given their bank account numbers have later discovered funds have been withdrawn from their accounts without their knowledge or approval. Repeated attempts to obtain refunds have been unsuccessful.
These calls typically begin with a recorded message saying the company is offering a free home security system in exchange for the placement of a small sign in the resident's yard. An option is then given to stay on the line to speak to a representative, or to "press 9 to be removed from our call list". Citizens should not press 9 because that only confirms to the scam artists that they have reached a valid, working telephone number thus insuring repeated calls in the future. If such a call is received, just hang up without responding in any way.
Also, if you receive such a call you should contact the North Carolina Consumer Protection office at 1-877-566-7226 or 1-919-716-6000. They will assist you in making a formal complaint against the fraudulent callers. The Attorney General's Office has an active, on-going investigation of these callers and they are seeking all available information about their activities.
The Asheville Police Department reminds all persons that they should be immediately suspicious of any caller who offers something "free". Such offers are rarely legitimate. Also, the Police Department is never going to be in a position of endorsing any particular brand of home security products.