ADT Class-Action Should Spur Your Action

Security systems integrators can learn from the latest class-action suit against ADT.

NOTE: . The opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of SSI, and not intended as legal advice.

ADT is no stranger to class-action lawsuits, but generally large companies with deep pockets hope to avoid them. Even if without merit, class actions are costly to defend and time consuming. On Nov. 9, ADT was sued in federal court in Illinois for deceptive business practices in connection with its wireless security equipment and monitoring services. According to the lawsuit, while ADT advertises that it uses the most innovative and advanced technology, its wireless signals are unencrypted and unauthenticated, thus easily intercepted by third parties.

RELATED: Suit Alleges ADT’s Wireless Systems Are ‘Easily Hacked’

The complaint alleges …

In its marketing materials, including on its website, ADT represents, inter alia, that it “has one of the most trusted and well-known brands in the security industry today.” Additionally, ADT’s marketing materials are intentionally designed to give potential customers the overall impression that its home security equipment and services are secure.

ADT makes the following representations on its website: a. Customers can “Get Security You Can Count On. Every Day of the Year”; b. “Your haven is armed with 24-hour-a-day protection, 365 days a year”; c. Customers can “Live worry-free with ADT Security for less than $1 a Day”; and d. “Fast. Reliable. Security Protection. ADT stays constantly alert with six Customer Monitoring Centers operating day and night across the country. Our Customer Monitoring Centers are nationally connected, equipped with secure communication links and backed by the latest technology so that our security team is always ready to act the moment an incident occurs.”

“When you want to do everything you can to safeguard your loved ones, your home and your treasured possessions, you owe it to yourself and your family to talk to us about our continuous 24/7 protection”; “When it comes to you and your family’s safety, we let nothing stand in the way of our professionally trained team immediately working to help ensure your safety”; “Only home security monitoring provides you and your family with the reassurance that even when no one’s home, you’re protected against unwanted entry and property loss.”

Even if without merit, class actions are costly to defend and time consuming. Though ADT may prevail in the lawsuit, most of you reading this article would be financially hard pressed to defend yourself.

The complaint then alleges the representations constitute deceptive business practices …

Despite its representations in its marketing materials, ADT’s wireless systems are unencrypted and unauthenticated, and otherwise insecure. Therefore, ADT’s wireless systems are easily accessed and manipulated – or “hacked” – by unauthorized third parties. By hacking ADT’s wireless systems, unauthorized third parties can, inter alia, remotely disconnect or turn off the security systems so that customers are unknowingly left unprotected by their systems. Unauthorized third parties can also hack into ADT’s wireless systems and use customers’ own security cameras to unknowingly spy on them.

Surely ADT does not offer “prevention” and throwing around the word “protection” starts to sound an awful like “prevention,” especially in the context of the advertisements and promotions. Of course, all of this is negated by the ADT contract. There are a few lessons to be learned. Though ADT may prevail in the law-suit, most of you reading this article would be financially hard pressed to defend yourself.

Not to worry, here are few things you can do: 1) Make sure your Web site and advertisements do not cross the line from puffery to false expectations; 2) Make sure your subscriber con-tract form is lawful and properly executed; 3) Make sure your subscriber contract is properly worded; 4) Use the Disclaimer Notice; 5) Make sure your contract contains a class-action waiver that should get you out of the class action


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About the Author


Security Sales & Integration’s “Legal Briefing” columnist Ken Kirschenbaum has been a recognized counsel to the alarm industry for 35 years and is principal of Kirschenbaum & Kirschenbaum, P.C. His team of attorneys, which includes daughter Jennifer, specialize in transactional, defense litigation, regulatory compliance and collection matters.

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