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Metropolitan New York, Long Island, and the Mid-Hudson Region
Safe & Sound: Tips on Home Alarm Systems
All the talk about homeland security is prompting more consumers to secure their homefronts. More and more people are buying professionally installed alarm systems for their homes. Although no system makes your home completely burglar-proof, a home security system can reduce your chances of being burglarized and give you some peace of mind. The Better Business Bureau advises consumers to investigate the purchase of a home security system with the same care as they would any major purchase.

The best home security system will accommodate your lifestyle and specific valuables you want protected. Carefully consider your security requirements and budget. To find out what kind of system is best for you, it is wise to call a professional installer. You may also get recommendation from the insurance company that covers your home. 

If you seek to buy a home security system, contact at least three companies before selecting an installer. Find out if they are properly licensed in your state and if they screen employees before hiring. Ask for references and check the company out with the Better Business Bureau and the National Burglar and Fire Alarm Association. Prices for home security systems will vary, based on the level of protection and type of technology used, so be sure to compare apples-to-apples bids on similar systems. Do not forget to factor in the initial installation charge, as well as monthly monitoring charges. Also, talk to your insurance agent; some systems may qualify you for a discount on homeowner's premiums.

If your alarm system will be monitored, either by your installing company or by a third-party monitoring center, find out the length of the contract. Typically, monitoring contracts are between two to five years in length. What is your recourse if you are not satisfied with the services provided? Can you cancel the contract? What are your rights if your monitoring company is purchased or acquired by another alarm company? These are the types of questions you need to consider before you obligate yourself to a long-term contract.

Insist that the installer "walk" you through your system until you fully understand how it works. This will prevent the most common problem: false alarms. False alarms are an indicator of the quality of the alarm installation and user education. Ask for a complete inspection of your property and an itemized written estimate. Review the sales contract closely to ensure you understand exactly what equipment and protection you will be provided.