A representative from a home-security company knocks on your door and offers you a free alarm system in exchange for displaying
his company’s sign on your lawn. Swayed by the prospect of getting a security setup gratis, you sign a long-term monitoring
contact and end up stuck with a shoddy installation and substandard equipment and service.How to spot a scam:
Be alarmed if a salesman says he represents, or wears clothing with logos from, manufacturers like GE and Honeywell. These
firms don’t sell directly to consumers and don’t allow their logos to be used by others. Also be wary if the rep does not
take time to assess your home’s vulnerabilities or does not discuss alarm system details, alarm notification procedures, and
the company’s call center. Companies with “vans ready to install your system today” are another tip-off.How to do the job right:
Quality alarm systems combine audible and silent alarms triggered by sensors placed throughout the home, not just on doors
and windows. Use a combination of sensor technologies for fewer false alarms and better accuracy. Silent alarms notify the
monitoring station, which contacts the police. Audible alarms prompt the burglar to flee.
Expect to pay $1 to $2 per square foot of your home for a complete system and about $25 per month for monitoring. Cheaper
systems may use less-sophisticated sensors, says Ron Walters, the Security Industry Alarm Coalition’s
(SIAC) director of field operations. “Low-tech sensors don’t recognize the difference between an animal and a human,” he
Walters recommends you look for sensors that meet American National Standards Institute and SIAC standards. The National Burglar & Fire Alarm Association
certifies installers through its National Training School. And some states license alarm companies and installers.