Safe and sound: installing a home alarm system

Every year, thousands of Americans seek to secure their homes, families and belongings with a home security system. More than two million home burglaries are reported each year and only 17 percent of homes have security systems to prevent possible break-ins.

In 2016, Better Business Bureau received almost 600,000 inquiries from consumers across the U.S. and Canada researching alarm system companies. BBB also handled hundreds of complaints from consumers. Many complaints were about companies attempted to get consumers to switch to a different alarm service by knocking on their door and offering an “upgrade” or stating their current service went out of business.

BBB offers these tips to help you find a reputable alarm system company:

Choosing a system

The best home security system will fit your lifestyle and the valuables you want protected. When looking for a system, consider your budget and ask for recommendations from friends and family. Also, ask your homeowners or renters insurance provider for a recommendation. To help determine what kind of system best fits your needs, call a professional installer. Look out for high-pressure sales tactics and offers that sound too good to be true.

Contacting businesses

Before making your decision, contact at least three companies before selecting one. Make sure they are properly licensed and always ask if the company runs extensive background checks on employees. Ask for references and contact them about their experiences. Check the Electronic Security Association website for a list of member companies throughout the U.S. who have agreed to abide by the National Code of Ethics.

Ask about price upfront

Prices for security systems will vary based on the level of protection desired and the type of system you select. Be sure to include the initial installation cost, as well as monthly monitoring charges. Also, talk to your insurance agent; some systems may qualify you for a discount on homeowner’s premium.

Fully understand your contract

Get everything in writing. Understand who will be monitoring your system and how long the contract will last. Consider these questions before signing a long-term contract: What is the recourse if you’re not satisfied with the service? Can you cancel the contract? What are your rights if your monitoring company is purchased by another company?

BBB can also help. It can provide a list of BBB Accredited companies in the industry and Business Profiles on companies you're considering. Visit or call (937) 222-5825.

John North is president of the Dayton Better Business Bureau.

About the Author