RALEIGH, N.C. (Legal Newsline) -- North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper warned consumers this week not to fall for a telephone sales pitch for a new home security system.

Cooper said Monday that more than 600 state consumers contacted his office last year to report telemarketing calls trying to sell alarm systems.

The attorney general said the calls often start with an alarming recorded message that says the FBI or State Bureau of Investigations has noticed a spike in burglaries and "reports a break in every five minutes" in your area.

The message then says that the company has installed home security systems in your neighborhood, and that you can get an alarm system for free if you'll agree to let the company place a sign in your yard, Cooper explained.

But the attorney general said it is against state law for a business to call an individual using a recording message. And if a consumer has signed up for the national Do Not Call Registry, he or she shouldn't be getting telemarketing sales calls at all.

However, some companies continue to make the calls illegally, Cooper said.

"We're investigating the calls and believe they're coming from firms hired by alarm system companies to generate leads for new business," the attorney general said in a news release.

"We've traced some of the calls and ordered companies to stop making them, and we're working on other ways to enforce the law."

Cooper said consumers who get the calls should not respond -- even if the recorded message gives you the option to press a number to stop future calls.

Pressing a number, he explained, confirms that the telemarketers have reached a valid phone number, and consumers will likely get more calls instead of less.

In addition to reporting the calls to the Attorney General's Office, Cooper said consumers can get accurate information about crime rates in their area by checking with local law enforcement or viewing statewide crime statistics online.

From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by email at jessica@legalnewsline.com.

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