Columbia viewer concerned about possible security scam

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COLUMBIA - A new scam involving home security is being reported in Columbia.

A viewer told KOMU 8 News the possible scam involves people going to houses with an alarm company sign in the front yard. The scammers will tell the homeowners they are from a home security company and that they will install new home equipment at no extra charge.

The viewer said the person gets bank information from the homeowner and offers to cancel the customer's previous contract with the other company, but never does. This results in the customer being unintentionally signed up for duplicate services. 

Regional Director for the Better Business Bureau Mike Harrison said this type of scam is one the BBB has heard of in other areas, but this is the first instance reported in the mid-Missouri area. Harrison said it sounds similar to a classic scam.

"They'll impersonate a company, and they'll tell the individual that the company they are doing business with has gone out of business. Then they'll say they are taking over the account," Harrison said. "Then they'll have the consumer sign a sheet of paper, when in reality it's a contract. So then the homeowner is left paying two contracts."

Harrison said consumers should never feel pressured by salespeople and can always ask for time to think about an offer before accepting anything. 

The viewer reported the scammer was impersonating an employee of a real security company called Monitronics.

KOMU 8 News reached out to Monitronics, which would not comment formally. But a sales representative who originally answer the phone said the scammers who claim to be from the company are not. She said Monitronics does not deal directly with customers, but rather monitors equipment from its base in Dallas, while local companies install equipment and go over contracts.

The area manager for Monitronics dealer Elite Home Security, Zac Whitworth, reached out to KOMU 8 News Thursday night after some of his customers saw this story and were concerned they had been scammed. He said his salespeople are out in Columbia offering no initial cost, so it may sound similar but is not. He said his sales team is not looking for customers with existing services and would not offer to cancel another company contract.

Whitworth said other companies "may approach Monitoronics' other customers throughout the country and impersonate them to try and get them to change companies."

Whitworth said customers can be sure they are dealing with an authentic representative because they will have a shirt and hat with Monitronics and Elite Home Security logos. He said they also carry identification and can provide a business license. 

Whitworth provided KOMU 8 with license numbers and copied correspondance with the city regarding a obtaining a license dated May 29. 

Editor's note: This story has been updated to reflect comments from Zac Whitworth regarding his company.