Consumers considering a home security system are encouraged to do their homework . The BBB offers the following advice:
*Some companies will offer a "free" alarm system. While the equipment and installation may be free (make sure this is in writing), there is a monthly monitoring fee. When you compare costs, make sure you compare all the costs.
*Find out about local building codes and regulations regarding burglar alarms (including costs for false alarms).
*Check out the company that will be monitoring your system. Ask if it is the same company you are signing a contract with. If not, make sure you obtain the name, address and phone number of this company and check their BBB report.
*Consider advantages and disadvantages of each system and decide which will be best for your particular situation.
*Does the company call you first before notifying the police?
*Does the company have a security patrol car that will check out the alarm and if necessary call the police?
*How soon after the alarm sounds will you be notified?
*What happens if the alarm company is unable to reach you when the alarm is sounding? Is the alarm reset? Are the police called? Are alternate numbers called?
*Ask for procedures in writing, so you can anticipate how you can best handle the situation.
*Deal only with reputable firms and check out the company at BBB's website, www.bbb.org.
*Don't be pressured into buying something you don't want or need. A reputable company will let you check out the offer and compare bids from several installers.
*Make sure it includes all promises made by the sales person. If the promises are not in the contract, don't sign it!
*Study the contract carefully. Confirm information such as:
*Installation price, monthly price, and length of the contract (most contracts are for at least two years). Make sure that any free or discount offers have been added into the written contract.