Home Security. What you absolutely must know before purchasing a security system

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1 Home Security What you absolutely must know before purchasing a security system 1

2 As founder and owner of SHIELD Security Systems, I ve answered hundreds, if not thousands, of questions from homeowners considering an alarm. The vast majority of those questions deal with personal preferences, customizations, and financial concerns that vary widely from one customer to the next. However, a few of the questions deal with ubiquitous concerns that every homeowner should address before purchasing an alarm system. Alarm Systems Work! The first thing every homeowner should know is that alarm systems work. A system that is well designed, correctly installed, and properly maintained will act as a powerful deterrent to would-be intruders. And, as I ll explain later, alarm systems can help protect you and your family from more than burglary. There are a lot of good reasons to invest in an alarm system from peace of mind to increased safety, and even discounts on your homeowner s insurance policy. Of course, like any investment, there are important things that you absolutely must know before you commit to purchasing a system. You need to know how an alarm can help you, what to look for in an installation company, and what will be expected of you after installation. Probably due to their lack of experience, most of my customers overlook these crucial questions. To help you with your decision, I ve provided in-depth answers to these important questions you may have forgotten to ask. 2 SECURITY SYSTEMS

3 How Will An Alarm System Protect Your Home and Family Many customers forget to ask basic questions about how an alarm system can help protect them. With nearly 40 years of experience, I could spend hours explaining all of the benefits of an alarm system. But, as an informed consumer, you shouldn t base your decision solely on my word. There s a lot of independent information available to help guide your decision. Once you have a better understanding of how alarm systems can help, you ll be in a better position to judge the claims and offers made by security consultants or installers. 3 SECURITY SYSTEMS

4 Guard Against Forcible Entry According to FBI statistics, more than 60% of burglaries involve forcible entry exactly the type of entry alarm systems detect. Alarm systems employ a variety of sensors to detect unauthorized entry into your home. Door and window sensors guard the perimeter of your home, while glass-break detectors listen for breaking glass in windows or door-panes. The primary purpose of the system is to detect an intruder at the perimeter (before they get in), preferably by discouraging them from even attempting to enter your home. Protection From Fire / Medical Emergencies As a secondary benefit, alarms can protect you from a variety of non-criminal emergencies. Smoke, heat, and carbon monoxide detectors can notify you of dangerous conditions inside the home. If you re away or incapacitated, our central station operators can dispatch assistance. Wireless pendants let you trigger the alarm for medical or other emergencies. Safer Neighborhoods The security benefits of an alarm system extend beyond the walls of your house. A five-year study conducted by Rutgers University found that homes with alarm systems deterred burglars from that particular home and drove them away from the surrounding area. This peripheral effect greatly increases the security of your home, as it can discourage criminals from even entering the area. 4 SECURITY SYSTEMS

5 What You Should Look For In An Alarm Installation Company Once you decide to install an alarm system, you need to find a qualified company. Proof Of License An easy first step is to contact the licensing board that oversees security companies in your area. They can tell you what qualifications the company must meet to become licensed. This can include everything from training and background checks, to insurance and bonding requirements. If a potential installation company can t furnish written proof of full compliance with these requirements, you should move on to a different company. References A qualified installer will have years, if not decades, of experience and the references to back up that experience. Ask for client references and actually contact the references. I ve met a lot of customers who ask for references but never follow up on them, which defeats the purpose. One thing to consider when contacting references; you should ask about reliability, cleanliness and overall professionalism. You should never ask about details of their security system. Experience A qualified security consultant is selling you a service based on their expertise and experience. That experience should speak for itself. No qualified consultant should need to resort to high-pressure sales tactics. Free systems and limited time offers are popular tactics employed by companies that are less interested in your safety and more interested in selling you a long-term monitoring contract. Custom Security Properly installed systems are tailored to your home and lifestyle. A qualified security consultant should do a full security survey of your home, discuss your needs and expectations, and give you a written estimate for the system you ve agreed on. A FREE cookie-cutter system that comes with a long-term monitoring contract is worth exactly what you pay for it. 5 SECURITY SYSTEMS

6 Your Responsibilities There are some ongoing costs and responsibilities associated with having an alarm system. As long as you meet these responsibilities, your system should give you many years of trouble-free service. Monitoring Fee If your alarm is monitored (which it should be), you ll need to pay a monitoring and connection fee. Whether your system is connected via landline, cellular, or VoIP, you re responsible for keeping that service connected. If it s disconnected, the alarm will still sound locally, but it won t call the monitoring center. To maximize the benefits of your system, monitoring is essential. Billing should be available on a monthly, quarterly, semi-annual or annual cycle. The monitoring center can send assistance 24 hours a day, 7 days a week even if you re away from home or incapacitated. Testing When we talk about testing, there are two distinctly different elements that should be tested; the detection equipment (door/window contacts, glass breakage and motion detectors etc.), and the connection to the central station. Every manufacturer highly recommends that you test your entire system weekly. I realize that this isn t necessarily practical, however, it is the client s responsibility to test the detection equipment (components) regularly. You can contact your security company to get instructions and they should be able to inform you as to how to test the equipment. Testing the connection to the central station can be done manually or automatically. Newer systems send automated signals to the central station on a regular basis (this should be no less than weekly on new systems). If your system does not send and automated system, you should arrange to 6 SECURITY SYSTEMS

7 send a test signal weekly. This can be done by simply tripping the alarm and waiting for a return call or by initiating a test from your keypad (if this is an option with the equipment you have). This will help ensure that your system is communicating correctly and that the monitoring center is receiving the right codes. The help they send is dependent on the code they receive, so it s important to make sure they get the right one. Don t Tamper With Your Security System I m often amazed by the number of people who sabotage their alarm systems. They most often do this by disabling or bypassing certain zones that are giving them trouble. If something isn t working the way you want it to, whether it s due to a failure or a change in your lifestyle or home, don t simply bypass that zone. Call and get it fixed, changed, moved, or whatever it takes to make it work properly. A bypassed zone is ignored by the system it creates a hole in your security that could be exploited by a criminal. Use Your System! I also run into a lot of people who simply don t arm their alarm system. They either use it only at night, or only when they plan to be away for hours or days. A burglar can be in and out of your house in minutes. It takes seconds to arm and disarm the system. Take the few seconds necessary to protect your home and valuables. Don t share your passcodes, and change them regularly. Alarm systems allow you to enter temporary user codes that can be eliminates at a later date. Use this feature for contractors, visitors, or anyone else who isn t a regular resident of the home. Make sure any children in the home understand the importance of not sharing their passcode with anyone. YOUR RESPONSIBILITIES (continued) 7 SECURITY SYSTEMS

8 A final word As with any major purchase, carefully weigh your needs and expectations before you start shopping around. That way, disreputable companies won t be able to sell you on products and services you don t want or need. A reputable company will be able to evaluate your needs and expectations and work with you to design a system that fulfills them as well as possible. Your greatest protection is knowledge knowing what alarm systems do, how to find a reputable company, and what your responsibilities are will help ensure that you re happy with your alarm system. 8 SECURITY SYSTEMS

9 About SHIELD Security Systems: For nearly 40 years, SHIELD Security Systems has served the Buffalo market offering alarm monitoring services for homes and businesses without the FREE sales gimmicks offered by other alarm companies. We ve earned a solid reputation as a dependable alarm provider delivering consistent, honest value to our clients. FOR MORE INFORMATION ON SECURITY SYSTEMS please visit us at or contact us at SHIELD is a registered trademark with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Our franchisees have exclusive use of this mark (Registration # 1,852,622). Copyright 2013 SHIELD Security Systems, FDC, Inc. 9 SECURITY SYSTEMS

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