Security Tip

Some home security alarm companies sell you a system, then sell you, their customer, to a third party to handle the duty of monitoring your home.

Make sure you kow who is doing the monitoring.





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Calling in the Pros

Evaluating The Security Alarm Companies


More than 20% of American households have an alarm system installed, but most of them are not monitored by any of the security alarm companies.

A home security system is the first step in protecting your family. However, professional monitoring ensures that you are always connected to a trained agent that can quickly get you the help you need, when you need it most.

If you're thinking about adding a monitoring service, you'll need to do a a thorough comparison of security alarm companies - both national as well as any local service providers in your town.

And that means looking beyond the system components and services being offered. Comparing and choosing a security provider is not that difficult, as long as you are willing to do a little consumer research.

The small monthly cost may make investigation seem unnecessary. But keep in mind that this is, after all, about protecting your home, property, and family. So if you're going to have your system professionally monitored, it pays to do your homework.

There are two general approaches:

    1) You can have a couple of professional alarm companies do a risk assessment of your property, and then provide a a turn-key package of equipment and monitoring.
    2) Opt for a do-it-yourself security system. Create your own security plan, and purchase the alarm components you need. Then select an monitoring service to cover your self-installed system.

Checklist For Evaluating Security Alarm Companies

Regardless of the approach you take, the process of comparing security alarm providers is the same. To make an informed decision, compare these factors:

1) Reputation: The monitoring company will have the key to your property, so check their references before signing any contract. They should willingly tell you how long they've been in business or in your neighborhood. Check with your police department and Better Business Bureau to get local ratings on the company. Check for local licensing requirements, and make sure the company can show you compliance.

2) License & Bonding: If the security company will install your system, are they a licensed low-voltage electrical contractor? If your state requires a separate alarm-contractor's license, make sure they also have this. Interview only those security alarm companies that are bonded and insured. Should any damage occur while they're installing your system, you'll want them to pay for repairs.

3) Response protocol: Ask the security service provider to explain exactly what happens when an alarm is tripped. What is the average response time? Does the home alarm company call you or the police first? How many times will they try to reach you?

4) False alarms: What is the ratio of false to true alarms for a company-installed system? Does the monitoring service company penalize you for false alarms? What are the criteria for determining when an alarm is false ?

5) Rates. Prices vary depending on geography, the type of system you have installed, and what is being monitored. $10-$40 per month is typical.

6) Contact the National Burglar & Fire Alarm Association [301-907-3202] and your state burglar and fire alarm association for a list of member companies in your area. Reputable security alarm companies will belong to one or both of these associations.

7) Does the security alarm company conduct background checks before hiring employees? It's an indication of professionalism if they do, and an assurance to you about the people installing and monitoring your system.

And don't be afraid to look beyond the traditional burglar alarm monitoring. Many security alarm companies also offer the ability to monitor heat, smoke and carbon dioxide detectors.


For more information:

          Security Monitoring - What it is and how it works.

          Home Alarm Providers - Monitoring and more.

          ADT Security Services - An intro into the many options.

          Brinks Home Security - Another national security service that is worth a look.

          Protect America Security Monitoring Systems - A great choice for the do-it yourselfer.