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Everyone wants to protect their home, their property, and, most of all, their families. In fact, market research suggests the home security business is growing at a rate of about 9 percent a year.

Home security systems are not all alike, however. Some systems can not only warn you of intruders, but can also notify authorities, monitor smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, and/or include video surveillance. Mot security alarm installers can provide services that include equipment plus installation and monitoring service.

If you are thinking about buying a home security system, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) suggests that you:

Get references from friends, neighbors or relatives;

Check out companies online and check the Better Business Bureau for complaints;

Verify that the contractor’s license is in good standing via the National Association of State Contractors Licensing Agencies;

Get written estimates from several companies;

Read the fine print regarding costs, installation timeline, warranty, and an explanation of your right to cancel within three days of signing a contract; and

Ask lots of questions:

  • Who will perform the installation and monitor the system? Some companies subcontract this work to a third party.
  • What is the contract period for monitoring? One year? More? Are there penalties for early termination? What happens if you move before the contract term is up?
  • How much does the monitoring cost? How often will you be billed?
  • Does the company call you before notifying the police?
  • How soon after the alarm sounds will you be notified?
  • What happens if the alarm company can’t reach you when the alarm is sounding? Is the alarm reset? Are the police called? Are alternate numbers called?
  • What happens if the power goes out? Is there a back-up battery system?
  • What does the warranty cover, and for how long? Is it from the manufacturer or their installer?
  • Who is responsible for repairs or upgrades to the system?
  • Does the company offer interactive services like smoke and fire detection, remote control, video surveillance, email notifications and special apps for smart phones?

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