Home Security Systems: What to Know Before Buying
By Barbara Pronin
Everyone wants to protect their home, their property, and, most of all, their families. In fact, market research suggests the home security business is growing at a rate of about 9 percent a year.
Home security systems are not all alike, however. Some systems can not only warn you of intruders, but can also notify authorities, monitor smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, and/or include video surveillance. Mot security alarm installers can provide services that include equipment plus installation and monitoring service.
If you are thinking about buying a home security system, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) suggests that you:
Get references from friends, neighbors or relatives;
Check out companies online and check the Better Business Bureau for complaints;
Verify that the contractor’s license is in good standing via the National Association of State Contractors Licensing Agencies;
Get written estimates from several companies;
Read the fine print regarding costs, installation timeline, warranty, and an explanation of your right to cancel within three days of signing a contract; and
Ask lots of questions:
- Who will perform the installation and monitor the system? Some companies subcontract this work to a third party.
- What is the contract period for monitoring? One year? More? Are there penalties for early termination? What happens if you move before the contract term is up?
- How much does the monitoring cost? How often will you be billed?
- Does the company call you before notifying the police?
- How soon after the alarm sounds will you be notified?
- What happens if the alarm company can’t reach you when the alarm is sounding? Is the alarm reset? Are the police called? Are alternate numbers called?
- What happens if the power goes out? Is there a back-up battery system?
- What does the warranty cover, and for how long? Is it from the manufacturer or their installer?
- Who is responsible for repairs or upgrades to the system?
- Does the company offer interactive services like smoke and fire detection, remote control, video surveillance, email notifications and special apps for smart phones?
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