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Do Home Security Yard Signs Really Protect Your Home?

by Amy December 31, 2013

 

 

We’ve all seen alarm company yard signs or window decals. Many of us wonder if simply having the yard sign or window decal on site is enough to stop home break-ins.

After all, why spend the money for a wireless home alarm system when a simple sign could take care of the problem?

According to the experts, that kind of thinking can get you into a world of trouble.

The San Jose, California police department points out that many burglars know that most wireless home alarm system owners don’t even turn on (arm) their wireless home security systems. A window sticker or a sign for these types of intruders is not an effective deterrent, in their opinion.

A study published by researchers affiliated with the University of North Carolina at Charlotte found that most burglars weren’t deterred by yard signs or window stickers, although the study did find them to be somewhat effective with “spur-of-the-moment” crime and with certain categories of female criminals.

Take a look at how insurance companies handle security yard signs. They don’t offer premium discounts for the signs; rather, discounts are offered only for monitored home alarm systems. The reason is because insurance carriers know that yard signs and window stickers alone don’t deter crime or reduce risk. Wireless security systems do, which is why homeowners get discounts for having them.

Have you ever heard of Amazon.com? Rest assured that criminals have. They know that a wide variety of fake home security company yard signs and window stickers are for sale online. Take a look at them for a minute. Now think hard about this…if a yard sign could really deter thieves from attacking your home, don’t you think they’d cost more than $20?

Yard signs and window stickers alone aren’t enough to stop home break-ins. They may keep kids away and they may help emergency responders know who to notify in the event of alarm activation. But counting on them to keep you safe from criminals could be a huge mistake. With a wireless security system for home you know you’re protected no matter what.

Are Monitored Home Security Systems Worth Buying?

by Amy December 26, 2013

 

So you’re thinking of buying a monitored home security system. Are home security systems with monitoring services really worth the money?

Burglars think so. According to the Electronic Security Association, 9 out of 10 convicted burglars said they’d avoid a home with an alarm system.

Statistics say so. Data indicates homes without an alarm system are three times more likely to be burglarized than those with an alarm system.

Researchers believe so. See a five year study from Rutgers University showing how home alarm systems cut crime.

Police departments think so. Orlando Police Chief Paul Rooney believes crime would be cut by 10% if homeowners installed monitored security cameras and home security systems. The San Jose Police Department calls an alarm system “excellent for home security.”  Although your local police department can’t recommend alarm companies, they can tell you all about the effectiveness of monitored home security systems.

Insurance companies think so. That’s why they offer maximum discounts of homeowner’s policies for people with monitored alarm systems. There’s less risk for the insurance company with security systems for homes, which is why they charge lower rates.

Monitored home security systems summon help when needed. The two most common things monitored in a home security system are for break-ins and fires. You can also monitor for a variety of other conditions (floods, temperature, carbon monoxide and more) and can even use video as part of your home security system.

Modern technology means that you can control monitored home security systems from your smartphone, tablet or any other web-enabled device.

Are monitored home security systems worth buying? The resounding answer from the experts is a loud “Yes!”

If you need a monitored home security system for you home, or want to switch from your current alarm monitoring company, contact My Alarm Center. Call us toll-free at 855-334-6562.  We protect homes just like yours throughout the United States.

7 Signs it’s Time to Switch Home Security Alarm Companies

by Amy December 24, 2013

 

Two of the biggest home security decisions anyone can make is the type of security system they buy and which home security company they choose to install, monitor and service the system. Each decision can have huge security consequences.

Most home security systems can be monitored and serviced by most reputable home security companies…you don’t need to have the home security system monitored by the installing company. So how can you know if you should change from your present home security company to a new one?  Here are seven signs that it might be time to switch to a new home security service:

1.       The home security system does not work when needed. You invested in a security system for protection. If it does not work when needed, your security company should clearly explain the reason for the system failure. If it is due to an error by the installing company, it’s time to make a change.

2.       You have excessive false alarms. False alarms are caused by user error, equipment malfunctions or improper equipment applications. Your home security company should be able to help you reduce false alarms in all three areas. If you have excessive false alarms, or sense indifference about false alarms from your alarm company, consider finding a new home security company.

3.       They don’t respond to your requests for information. If it takes them more than one day to return your phone call or respond to your email, you have a problem. Even worse is when they don’t follow up on requests you have made.

4.       Your fees keep increasing for no apparent reason. You have a right to understand the reason behind fee increases. If you don’t like what you hear, shop for alternative home security systems.

5.       The alarm system is monitored in a non-certified central station alarm monitoring center. Because experience and quality can vary widely amongst alarm companies, it’s wise to have your home alarm system monitored by an Underwriters Laboratories (UL) certified central station alarm monitoring center. That’s your assurance that certain standards of performance are in place to better protect you.

6.       When you receive no communications from the company, period. Good companies communicate regularly with their customers. The world of security is multi-faceted and ever-changing. Outstanding home security companies keep you informed about trends and developments that impact you. They share with you new security technologies and applications (like keyless entry systems, smartphone control of your security system and home automation options, just to name a few) that better protect you.

7.       They lack the ability to adequately service your home alarm system. If your alarm company doesn’t keep an adequate supply of replacement equipment on hand to repair systems when needed, it’s time to look for a new company. It’s too important to go without security for prolonged periods.

7 Steps To Choosing The Right Wireless Home Security System In Philadelphia

by Amy December 19, 2013

 

Here are seven proven steps you can take to choose the right home security system company in Philadelphia:

1.       Define your goals and objectives. There are home security system companies in Philadelphia that use different methods in an attempt to protect a home. Some only provide perimeter and gate protection. Some have limited alarm monitoring capabilities. Some only use camera surveillance. Know what you are trying to accomplish.

2.       Talk with family, friends and associates. Ask for recommendations from people you know that have alarm systems. Find out their experiences with Philadelphia security companies, the company they selected and the alarm system itself.

3.       Use Underwriters Laboratories (UL) certified equipment and clearly understand equipment capabilities and limitations. Certified equipment is your assurance that the components of your home security alarm system meet rigid performance standards. Make sure your alarm company representative clearly explains the decision-making process behind any security approach or device they recommend for your home.

4.       Search the internet. Check out consumer review sites like Yelp to find out what other people say about Philadelphia home security alarm companies and alarm equipment. Don’t place too much value on any single review. Look at them all to develop a consensus.

5.       Evaluate prospective wireless security companies. Find out what to ask before buying a home security system. Check their performance record with the Philadelphia Better Business Bureau, consumer protection agencies, state and city licensing divisions and ask for proof of trade association memberships. Understand fully their capabilities and professional services fees.

6.       Insist on an in-home evaluation and sales presentation from home security system companies under serious consideration. Don’t buy a home alarm system package without first making sure it provides the level of protection you desire. Make sure you clearly understand how you will be protected, what will and will not be protected, how your alarm system will be monitored and all fees you’ll pay for professional services. Read the contract clearly and thoroughly. Make sure you understand the contract length, what will happen if you move or want to cancel service, and all the terms and conditions associated with hiring a particular security company.

7.       Don’t be pressured. Avoid high-pressure sales tactics. It’s fine to take action once you have all the facts you need to make a decision. Resist “today only” offers, crime horror stories, and deals they’ll make just for you. Don’t feel pressured to sign anything and be wary of companies and sales representatives that are too pushy.

Peace of mind comes from knowing you’ve got the protection you need at a fair value. Apply these tips for best results.

Is A Dog A Good Alternative To A Home Security System?

by Amy December 17, 2013

 

Lots of families across America think about getting a dog instead of a home security system. Many of them consider a “watchdog” less expensive, just as effective and lots more fun than a home security system.

Is a dog really a good alternative to a home security system? Let’s examine the pros and cons to find out.

What’s more effective at stopping crime, dogs or home security systems?

Most law enforcement experts believe home security systems to be vastly superior to watchdogs.

“I would say your well-installed alarm probably is better than a dog,” says Sgt. John Delaney, a spokesperson for the police department in Springfield, Mass., as quoted in an article published by Insure.com. “There are people out there who break into the house and they steal the dog, too. A lot of dogs, if they are not Dobermans or German Shepherds that go after strangers, more than likely will cower in a corner. The alarm company will never cower away.”

Insurance companies also recognize the effectiveness of home security systems. That’s why most of them offer generous discounts for a monitored home security system. They don’t offer discounts for watchdogs; in fact, many increase home insurance premiums because they fear the dog may bite visitors to the home.

Best home security systems offer you more protection than a dog will. Security systems can alert authorities that help is needed. They can detect threats from smoke and carbon monoxide. Surveillance cameras can be used inside and outside the home, and you can even view what’s happening at your house via your smartphone. Dogs offer you none of those protection options.

Most security experts also agree that it’s harder to defeat a security system than it is to defeat a dog.

What costs more, dogs or home security systems?

According to figures supplied by the American Kennel Club, it is significantly more expensive to own a dog than it is a home security system.

One-time costs for a dog average $2100 and annual care costs for a dog average $2500 (more than $208 a month). Contrast that with costs for home security systems, with one-time costs for installation ranging from $200-$2000, and home alarm system monitoring costs below $50 per month.

Care costs for a dog are double to triple the costs of a home security system.

Are dogs easier to care for than a home security system?

Dog expert Cesar Millan on his blog identifies the top 10 reasons dogs end up in shelters. Most of them are attributed to the amount of care needed by the dog.

Dogs need time with their owners. They need training, grooming, daily feedings and exercise. Dogs come with owner responsibilities and costs that simply aren’t required by home security systems.

Home security systems, when designed and installed properly, are relatively easy to maintain. You have to turn them on to be effective. Daily test signals can be automatically sent to ensure that your alarm system signals are being received at the alarm monitoring center. It’s recommended that you walk test your system once every three months to check for proper operation. You should also have your alarm company conduct an annual preventive maintenance inspection.

There’s little doubt that home security systems require less care than watchdogs.

Dogs make great companions and pets. When it comes to home security however, leave the security work to a home alarm system.

How Much Should Home Security Alarm System Monitoring Services Cost?

by Amy December 12, 2013

 

You’re considering a home security system when all of a sudden you start to compare the wide variety of pricing for alarm system monitoring services. If you are like most consumers, you’ll see home alarm monitoring pricing variances amongst companies that are wider than the Grand Canyon.

Although the peace of mind that comes from great home security monitoring is priceless, you’ll also want to make sure your money is well spent.

Here’s the bottom line on what it costs for home security alarm system monitoring services, as well as how to save wisely on those costs.

What is being monitored?

Home security systems today can monitor a variety of conditions within your home.  From intrusion alarms to fire detection, modern home security monitoring technology can assist you in many ways. The number of things being supervised by the alarm company will definitely impact your monthly monitoring fees.

What home alarm response do you need?

The type of home alarm response you need in part determines monitoring costs. Do you need the alarm monitoring center to simply contact you in the event of an emergency? Would you like them to dispatch the police upon alarm activation?

Some home security monitoring companies will send their own personnel to your home in the event of alarm activation. They do that because they oftentimes can respond quicker than the police. It’s also done as a way to prevent false alarm fines from local law enforcement agencies. Fines can be quiet expensive. In Philadelphia, false alarm fines and system registration violations can run up to $300 per occurrence. False alarm fees in Seattle range from $115 – $230 per event.

You can even have live video signals sent to the home alarm monitoring center from your home in the event of alarm activation.

The more detailed alarm response needed for your protection, the higher the cost of monitoring services.

What monitoring technologies are used?

There are a variety of ways to transmit alarm information from your home to the alarm monitoring center.

The Electronic Security Association, on their website for consumers, explains the pros and cons for the communication technologies available for use with wireless home alarm systems.

Each communication technology provides varying levels of security. The higher the level of security provided, the higher the fees for the monitoring services.  Some of these technologies are used in conjunction with one another for even greater levels of security.

What kind of company are you considering?

The right technologies and the right people make all the difference in the quality (and cost) of the home alarm monitoring service.

Home alarm monitoring companies with redundant monitoring systems (usually two or more monitoring locations) have higher overhead costs than those operating a single location. Thus, they charge more. Many alarm monitoring companies are certified by outside evaluation firms like Underwriter Laboratories (UL). These UL-certified Central Stations meet basic performance and security standards that others can’t or won’t.

Keep in mind that your wireless security system is only as good as the operator responding to the alert. The hiring and training practices of home alarm companies influence their monitoring fees. Companies hiring and training better employees need to charge more than those employing a lesser quality.

What other factors influence home alarm system monitoring rates?

The three major additional factors that determine home security monitoring fees are the size and location of the alarm monitoring center and the term of the monitoring agreement.

Alarm system companies with larger account bases can spread overhead costs amongst a wider range of customers, lowering the costs for each.

The location of the security system monitoring center is important, as cost-of-living and salary costs tend to run more in larger metropolitan areas like New York City and San Francisco.

Wireless home security alarm system monitoring contracts protect consumers in their dealings with monitoring companies. The longer the term of the contract (most agreements run 1-5 years), generally the lower the monthly alarm monitoring fees.

So, how much should home security alarm system monitoring cost?

It’s important to know what you want and to get all the facts when buying wireless home alarm monitoring services. Get an itemized list of monitoring charges from any company you are considering that clearly show the costs of every fee.

Expect to get what you pay for, just like buying a car. You’ll find monthly monitoring charges ranging from as low as $15 per month to charges in excess of $100 per month for higher-level wireless home security applications.

What To Ask Before Buying A Wireless Home Security Alarm System

by Amy December 10, 2013

 

Do you want really good protection for your family and home?

Then don’t commit your money, or sign a contact, with any home security alarm company without checking them out thoroughly first.

These days, most people do at least a little research before buying a system, but often the focus is on price – things like the cost of system installation and recurring alarm monitoring fees.

While that may be a good place to start, it only tells a part of the story. To determine if a home security alarm company is right for your home, you need to dig a little deeper.

To help you, here are some things to consider when evaluating home security companies. Think of it as your company-vetting checklist.

What Do You Want to Accomplish?

Different companies may have different approaches even though the objective is to protect your home. A security camera surveillance installer, for example, addresses home security differently than a home alarm system company. Some offer only wireless systems and home security equipment capabilities can vary widely.

Ask yourself what you care about. Do you want to protect your yard and outdoor property, your home only, or both? Do you want to integrate home security with home automation functions? Do you need special alarm system reporting features, or remote viewing and control?

Know your priorities and objectives.

Are the Security Company’s Goals In Line With Yours?

Fear-inducing stories and low prices may boost sales, but a company’s approach with you should focus on its proposed solution, not only on price or the size of the crime problem.

If all you hear is talk about price and true crime horror stories, and you don’t hear detailed talk about how they are actually protecting you, then how can you get the home protection that you really need?

Check the company’s website to learn it’s goals, how it plans to accomplish them and its recommendations from its current and past clients. What you want to see is an organization involved in its’ industry and community, one that promotes best practices and safe communities.

If the company you are researching doesn’t post such information on its website, don’t hesitate to call and ask for it. Any good company would be happy to discuss their industry and community involvement with you on the phone.

What Are Other Companies Doing?

Put a company’s work into greater perspective by researching what other security companies are providing in your area.

Everyone knows the largest national company advertising on TV, but that’s really only the tip of the iceberg. Smaller and less visible companies do great work and often provide better protection and better value.

Those companies involved in industry trade associations fill a vital role. Their involvement indicates a commitment to ethical best practices and on-going learning in an ever-changing world.

To learn what companies operate in your community, use an online search engine or review a site like Yelp.

What Are Others Saying?

The home security industry is multi-faceted and ever changing. Getting the opinions of others can greatly improve your understanding about your options and help you pinpoint the most effective home security company for you.

Ask your neighbors, friends and trusted associates.  They can share their own personal experiences and opinions about what organizations or security products/services are particularly strong.

Take a look at review websites like Yelp and Angie’s List. Don’t place too much weight on any one review. Rather, read them all so you get a good overall feel about what others think of the company.

Contact your local Better Business Bureau for information. Search a company’s name online to learn of lawsuits or negative customer service or alarm system performance issues.

Many states have licensing requirements for home alarm companies. Make sure the company you are considering has a current license in good standing with the community and state in which you live.

Is the Company Stable?

A company’s finances can shed light on an organization’s health and capacity.

In a tough economy like we’ve been facing in the U.S., many security companies have gone out of business, leaving their customers scrambling for security alternatives. The cost-of-entry into the home security industry is low, meaning it’s easier for some to decide to open a company today and close it tomorrow.

Ask a company about its finances. They should be bringing in enough revenue to exceed expenses. You want a company that is profitable, financially healthy, and with a leadership team committed to serving you.

What Are Your Instincts Telling You to Do?

While analysis is useful, it’s not entirely perfect. If you feel a home security company is right for you, it may be wise to go with your gut.

Sometimes it can be tough to evaluate if a company is truly right to protect your home, especially in the context of a complex, individual issue like security.

You are never going to know everything. Ultimately, selecting a home security company is a judgment call, just like buying your home or picking a place to eat. Make a decision and act on it.

My Alarm Center offers the best wireless home security system and protects homes, families and people just like you throughout the United States. Call us toll-free at 855-334-6562 for more information or request a quote here.

Money And Energy Savings With Home Automation Services

by Amy November 15, 2013

 

 

You’ve probably seen the commercials… A couple is at a relaxing dinner out and able to unlock the door for their son who arrives home from college unexpectedly, via their smartphone. The next scene might show someone turning down a thermostat remotely from a tablet. Cool. Is it that simple, you wonder?

You might have thought about getting a home security system for the peace of mind it brings, but something keeps stopping you: the perceived expense.

But did you ever consider that by having a security system with a home automation system like My Home you might actually save money in other areas?

You can.

Money Savings

Because insurance companies want to reward you for keeping your home secure and free of burglaries, fire and carbon monoxide, the average savings in homeowners’ insurance can be up to 20 percent for homes equipped with a monitored alarm system, according to a 2011 study of the 10 largest insurance companies by Electric Security Association.

Add to that the potential savings in electricity costs because of ease of energy conservation with My Home. For example, home automation as a service can ensure that lights are not left on all day—you can turn them off and on via your smartphone, tablet or PC/Mac. A thermostat can be controlled the same way: Turn down the air conditioning when you’re at work but turn it back up a half-hour before you get home to cool down the house.

Even window coverings can be automated to let light in to help warm up a room in the winter or close them to help cool down a room in the summer. Motion detectors included in a home automation plan are another way that can help save you money and keep you safe. They are only activated (light up or sound an alarm depending on the purpose intended) when someone is detected in a hallway or a room, so a light doesn’t have to be lit constantly sapping energy.

To further illustrate, the average American electric bill is about $110 a month, with roughly 56 percent going to heating and cooling and another 15 percent to lighting, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

By using home automation and smart home devices to control energy consumption, your electric bill can be cut by as much as 15 percent. That combined with the homeowners’ insurance savings, can help defray the cost of an alarm system—and may save you up to $1,352 a year—and in the end, may even pay for itself.

Home Security Solutions Make It A Happy (And Safe) Halloween

by Amy October 15, 2013

 

The days are getting shorter, the air is becoming cooler, and brilliantly colored leaves are falling from the trees. Halloween is almost here. The kids’ excitement is growing with each day closer to the costumed, freakishly fun holiday. Before you get too busy buying the candy, figuring out your kids’ costumes or even what you want to dress up as, read on for some helpful tips to keep everyone safe at Halloween.

Get Scary Safe at Home

Although Halloween is intended to be a ghostly good time for children (and grownups, too), it’s important to remember that it also can be an ideal time for burglars and vandals because of preoccupied and distracted homeowners, and can pose an increased risk for injuries.

• As an answer, keep your home well lit inside and out. Adequate lighting will not only deter burglars but also help prevent falls by trick-or-treaters. Consider motion sensor lights or spotlights that can be controlled on a custom schedule through home automation services.

• Clear any debris from sidewalks and your yard to ensure a clear path for little ghosts and goblins.

• And because the occurrence of fire increases around Halloween, the U.S. Fire Administration advises against using candles as decorations. If you use jack-o-lanterns to light your pathway, make sure to use a battery-powered light that’s tested for safety by a laboratory in your pumpkin to avoid a fire.

• Don’t forget to lock all windows and doors even if you’re the one doling out the candy. If you’re not going to be home, let your neighbors know and make sure your alarm system is set.

• If you have an alarm system, use it even if you’re home. Think about spot lighting the alarm signage for extra security.

• Remember that when you’re out trick-or-treating with the kids, you can check on your home via your smartphone with MyHome home automation services.

• Find out what time your community ends Halloween festivities, and be sure not to open the door to strangers after the curfew.

• Report any suspicious activity to your local police or sheriff’s department.

• Keep your pets confined on Halloween night for their safety and the safety of others. Many pets are scared by people in costume, so it’s best to keep Fido and Fluffy in the house, away from others.

Frightening Street Smarts

Of course, you also want to keep your family safe while hunting the neighborhood for candy. So it’s best to remind children before they head out to stay with a group, says the National Crime Prevention Council. If they’re younger, they should stay with a parent. If they’re older, they should stay with their group of friends and not branch off.

• Be sure to have a plan in place in case someone gets separated.

• Set a time limit for kids to be out trick or treating and map out a safe route with them.

• Ensure the kids understand to stay in well-lit areas and not enter the homes or cars of strangers.

• Attach reflective tape to costumes and bags to help others easily see the trick-or-treaters.

• Make sure they have flashlights that work before they conquer the streets.

While Mischief Night is a night known for pranks and tricks—where toilet paper, shaving cream and eggs on homes and property can often come into play—and may sound funny to kids, be sure to remind them not to engage in those activities as they’re considered vandalism.

Keeping all these tips in mind will no doubt bring a safe night of fun and loads of smiles along with overflowing bags of candy.

Have Peace Of Mind With Home Video Monitoring Services

by Amy September 16, 2013

A burglary happens every 14.4 seconds in America. That’s according to the latest statistics from the Federal Bureau of Investigation. To put it in perspective, in the span of a typical TV commercial break, about eight homes will be burglarized.

But did you know that 60 percent of convicted burglars admit they’d avoid a house with an alarm system, including video home surveillance, and seek another target? That’s according to a 2012 study of 422 incarcerated burglars by the University of North Carolina Charlotte Department of Criminal Justice.

While there’s no doubt alarm systems help keep us safe, adding home video surveillance can do double duty by allowing you to see what’s happening when you’re not there. With My Alarm Center’s Home Video Monitoring, you can get real-time updates of what’s happening at home via text or email.

You can also watch live-streaming HD video from up to eight wireless security cameras—indoors or outdoors with night vision—simultaneously on your smartphone, tablet or computer. Plus, you can view recorded home video to catch up on what you might have missed. You can also customize what you want recorded and when.

Home Video Monitoring Benefits

Home video is also helpful with knowing the kids arrived home from school safely. For example, video clips from surveillance cameras can be emailed or texted to you as soon as the front door opens. Additionally, these video clips can also be sent when an alarm goes off anywhere in your house or if there is motion anywhere in your home.

What’s more, you can remotely control cameras from your smartphone or computer. And you can schedule motion or event-triggered recordings to capture what matters most to you. You also don’t have to worry about handling or storing the video because it is stored in tamper-proof, off-site protected storage.

Other useful ways home video monitoring services can help is by letting you know when house cleaners or pet sitters arrive and leave. Likewise, video monitoring provides a sense of a relief during the day allowing you to see your pet is safe and staying out of mischief.

In addition, video monitoring is beneficial when you’re on vacation. Instead of worrying that your home isn’t burglarized while away, you’ll have an instant alert via text or email if there was an attempted break in. You can also rest at ease knowing nothing is going on at home with the ability to check on it with whatever schedule or regularity you’d prefer.

Video monitoring is just as useful for your business allowing you to see when employees arrive, when the delivery truck got there, or just to see how things are going on a regular basis.

Next month, find out the top ways to stay safe at Halloween with home security services.

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