Unsecured, investigating local home security system issues
AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW / WAGT) – Finding peace of mind these days is almost as difficult as trying to find toilet paper last summer. It’s the main reason families say they’ve invested in smart home devices during the pandemic, from doorbell cameras and locking systems to comprehensive home security packages. But our I-Team has a warning about a business targeting Augusta residents.
The public prosecutor sounded the alarm. Now the federal government is getting involved as well. I-Team Liz Owens Exposes Insecure Home Security.
A home security system has never crossed Tam Harmon’s mind.
Liz: âYou have something on the wall over there. Something on the front or a sign.
Until she fell victim to the guilt of a friend.
Tam: “I had no idea who Vivint was a friend of mine buying it from and she got 50 for referring me to Vivint’s salesperson.”
You know how it goes. Anything for a friend.
Tam: âI wanted to know more about Vivint, she could barely tell me about the company she told me if you don’t like her then stop her.
No engagement? Why not? A month later.
Tam: “What did I say?”
She tried to cancel.
Tam: “Did I say $ 1,000 for the equipment?” I didn’t know. “
She didn’t know anything about a contract either.
Tam: âThey say you owe money for the equipment you signed, and I said I didn’t sign anything. “
But they said she did.
Liz: “Isn’t that your signature here?”
Tam: “No, it’s not my signature.”
Pay up to six years of payments or a thousand dollars.
Tam: “But you can see my signature.”
Liz: “Oh yeah definitely.”
Tam: “It’s not the same.”
Tam has filed a complaint with the Better Business Bureau here in Augusta.
Gigi: “What is happening is that we have over 4,000 complaints.”
Liz: “4000? “
Gigi: âOver 4,000 over a three-year period. “
The BBB has reported the listed company F on its website. Of most concern for Gigi Turner, the regional director of the CSRA Better Business Bureau, is the trend of complaints.
Gigi: âThe pattern is made up of several things. One being that consumers are not informed of all the terms involved in the purchase and are spending a lot more money than they initially thought. Cancellation problem. They don’t realize once they cancel before a certain period of time that they own all of these assets and have to pay for all of those assets. “
And then there is this. The US Department of Justice filed a complaint on behalf of the Federal Trade Commission against Vivint Smart Homes Incorporated this spring. Credit histories of unintentional victims were used to qualify financing for potential clients.
The FTC alleges that some Vivint home sellers used a tactic known as white paging.
White paging is a process that involves using another consumer with the same or similar name on the White Pages application and using that consumer’s credit history to qualify the potential unqualified customer.
For example: Liz Ann Owens may not pass a credit check. The seller searches for a similar name Liz Ruth Owens and uses the credit of Liz Ruth to qualify Liz Ann.
Quoting the FTC press release: “In other words, people who had nothing to do with the transaction and had never even heard of Vivint ended up with blemishes on their credit and debt collectors on their backs.”
Last summer, the district office warned the I-Team that door-to-door sellers were targeting elderly consumers in the Augusta area. An investigator from a DA at the time told us that vendors would use an access point to demonstrate how the system worked, but did not inform seniors that they would need Wi-Fi themselves. for the system to work.
Liz: âDid you know you needed Wi-Fi? “
Tam: âNo no I wasn’t. The saleswoman was from Texas and could hardly tell me anything about the business.
Local MPs can.
Assistant: âI just don’t care about salespeople.
They’ve gone through enough doors here in Augusta to recognize the familiar chirping sound.
Deputy: âThey were pushing so hard when he first came out. I mean even here. Two or three. One in each street. And three months later, we couldn’t find someone to answer the phone. Everyone locked into two and three year contracts. The only way to cancel the contract is to buy the equipment directly. Which is about a thousand dollars.
Gigi: âIt’s not always the company itself. When you have big companies that have all those hundreds and hundreds of third-party vendors selling door to door, they rely on those vendors to do the right thing.
But the FTC alleges that Vivint didn’t always do the right thing, either. The complaint states that Vivint was aware of the problem and in fact fired many sales reps for misconduct only to rehire them soon after.
Gigi: âIt’s difficult to go door-to-door and it becomes illegal and innovative. We want consumers to be wary of door-to-door sales to protect themselves. Look at these contracts.
It took Tam sending a letter to Vivint and involving BBB investigators to finally get out of the contract.
Tam: âThey said if you ever wanted to come back welcome and I didn’t. “
The US Department of Justice fined Vivint $ 15 million and ordered the company to pay consumers an additional $ 5 million. This is the biggest monetary judgment to date for the FTC.
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