January 24, 2012
Question re social security numbers
We are sending out renewal contracts an have a fair number of people asking why there is a provision on the contract for their social security number. Do we need it? If not, can we remove it from the form?
Please respond at your earliest convenience.
Basil Morales, President
Elmsford, New York
The social security numbers are not required. In fact, if you take the social security numbers you are required to protect them from id theft. You should maintain the social security number as confidential and redact it if using the contract in any public way. The social security number would provide a unique identification number and will be useful if you sue the subscriber and have to enforce the judgment.
Comments on ADT's forgery case
It's very difficult to get customers to sign contracts. Salesmen only get paid if they come back with signed contracts.
On almost every street corner there are illegal signs posted that say: NOW HIRING - $500-$900 WEEKLY... these are out of town ADT dealers looking for
local ADT salesmen... you only get paid if you come back with signed contracts
so guess what? They come back with signed contracts so they can get paid.
Nobody verifies any of these because they don't care - they only care about the cash flow. The customer has agreed to have the system hooked up - the customer has agreed to the initial price - they just won't sign the contract because they don't agree to the terms. Yet the commission salesmen come back with signed contracts.
They know they will be long gone before anything happens and if you could track them down they would say the customer signed i or they don't remember. Either way ADT should have verified the contracts but they don't because they don't care. If the contract came from a 'dealer' then ADT is in the clear because they simply pass the blame off on the "independent" dealer and claim
not to know anything about anything.
It's not just ADT, the same thing happens with any of the dealer programs that purchase contracts. They send the customer a bill and they pay so the
assumption is made that everything is and this may go on for years and never
be discovered. It only becomes a problem when something happens. One telephone call to the person whose name appears on the contract to confirm their signature would eliminate this from happening but it would also cancel out many contracts.
And, if the customer refused to sign the contract in the first place, they
sure as heck aren't going to sign it now they have found out somebody forged
their name so you will lose that customer If the account has already been
hooked up then you lose that investment too plus you lose the commission you
paid the salesman.
Or, you can just collect the money and hope nothing happens
I am surprised this forgery problem does not come up more often but I see it on a regular basis whenever I takeover existing accounts who claim they don't
have any contract. A month or two later a signed contract suddenly appears.
It's also not unusual for an ADT salesman to quote you $39. a month with a signed contract and $49. a month without a contract - I have not seen this
with any other company.
Thank you for your informative emails regarding many of the industry issues. What is your opinion of a non-paying customer claiming that the person who signed the contract was not an owner, partner or person authorized to sign on behalf of the company. Can that person be held personally responsible? The contract was signed at the business of the customers.
Action Security & Communications
Make a copy of my drivers license? Talk about a security risk. I won't even allow car dealers to photocopy license when test driving a car, for security reasons. Are people still trusting enough to agree to let a company possess a copy of their drivers license? Seems like writing down their information on a contract (ie: DL# , expiration date) would serve as proof the person was identified.
Why not follow a procedure similar to what many small businesses do when they accept a personal check?
With identity theft being a concern, how many people will really allow you to have a picture of their license? That seems rather impractical. What if you add a statement to your billing that says theses services are provided pursuant to the terms and conditions of our standard service contract.
Should all Central Stations be required to request from all Alarm Services and Installations to provided them with valid licenses and insurance - this will eliminate so many flight by night companies or force them to become legit- what do you think
Taking a picture of the person signing (or making a video) is a good idea, until it comes to you and your flip phone that has no features because its probably a demo phone that you took as partial payment from a client
Bart A. Didden, President
U.S.A. Central Station Alarm Corp.
Port Chester, NY
Taking a picture of the person signing the contract is not that hard to do. Of course that picture may confirm that the person was someone who had no business signing that contract. It's your responsibility to confirm that the signer had authority. Any officer or manager can sign. Corporations will be held to the contract if the signer had actual or apparent authority that you relied upon, or later ratified a contract signed by an unauthorized person.
A person who signs without authority exposes himself to personal liability.
Perhaps a good way to look at it is this way. If you were going to lend money to a stranger consider what precautions you would take to confirm identity and authority, as well as proper paperwork. Treat your contract as a Promissory Note because we like to think of it that way when posturing for sale of the subscriber contracts.