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How to Answer Your Door with Home Security in Mind

by Amy April 15, 2014

 

Many of us have taught our kids to never open the door for a stranger. How many adults take those same safety precautions before answering the door?

Sure, we all want to be friendly and courteous. Yet not everyone coming to your door may have the same good intentions. In today’s society, you can’t trust that the person on the other side of the door is a friendly visitor.

Here’s what you should do when you hear a knock at your door:

·         Use a security camera system to see who is at the door. Make the camera visible. A camera could deter someone with devious intentions. The camera itself will allow you to see who is at the door.

·         Interact with the visitor using an intercom. This is an effective and affordable way to talk with a stranger without actually answering the door.

·         Look out a window. If you don’t have a home security camera system watching the area outside your door, look out a window adjacent to the door. You can see who is there without them knowing you are home. Based upon what you see, you can make a decision about how to proceed.

·         Talk through the door. Ask the visitor who they are and what they want behind the closed and locked door. Ask for identification. A legitimate visitor will understand and be happy to share ID with you.

·         Use a door chain. A chain lock provides some security while allowing you to open the door enough to get the visitor’s identification for review. You can also use the chain lock to accept a small package or special delivery envelope.

·         Send them home. If an unwanted visitor calls, or someone visits claiming to have an appointment you can’t verify, send them home. Tell them you’ll call to schedule their visit for another time.

·         Use your phone or system camera. Take a picture of the visitor and email it to a friend. Call the company the visitor claims to represent to make sure things are legitimate.

·         Trust your instincts. If your gut is telling you that something is wrong, then don’t open the door.

It only takes a second for a criminal to seize an opportunity to bring you harm. Be cautious. Be safe

Four Wireless Home Security Tips for Your Second Home

by Amy April 10, 2014

 

The start of spring brings the high season for second homes. It also poses a dilemma for second home owners.

When you are not at your second home, how do you keep it safe? Not only are there threats to the home from humans (vandalism, burglary), there are also natural disasters and plumbing emergencies. Second homes by their very nature are often several hours from first homes and the greater the distance, the greater the wireless home security system complexities.

With popular vacation home rental sites like Flipkey.com, Airbnb and Vacation Rentals by Owner, many homeowners recoup some second home costs by renting to vacationers. These rentals pose even more home security risks: how do you deliver and retrieve keys and how do you make sure renters haven’t trashed your place?

To simplify the home security and protection of your second home, we offer these tips.

Install a Complete Home Security Alarm System

Advances in technology make home security systems an attractive protection option for second homes. Cellular technology has eliminated the need for traditional phone lines for alarm system monitoring. Protect doors and windows, plus make sure to include interior motion detectors, smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detection. Your best protection against burglar and vandalism at your second home is with a monitored security system.

Include Security Camera Systems

Security camera systems are highly affordable, and they allow you to look in on your second home from your smartphone or any other web-enabled device. This means you can check in on your home from anywhere at any time. You can also record activity, which is highly useful if you need to prosecute any criminal activity. Want to see if you place has been trashed by vandals? Simply look on your phone and check! Security cameras outside your home are a must. Inside cameras are great even if you don’t rent your place to others.

Add Home Automation Features

Home automation features can integrate with your second home security system. You can remotely control and monitor temperature settings, which can help keep pipes from freezing without wasting energy. You can lock and unlock doors, turn on and off interior lighting, and a variety of other convenient options for second home owners. Set it up to run automatically or control it through any web-enabled device.

Maintain a Lived-In Look

Keep things up-to-date while you are away. Hire a service to periodically check on your home. Use your home automation system services to turn on and off lights at designated times. Have your service or neighbors pick up any flyers or newsletters left on your property. Have a service keep the property in good repair while you are away. And make sure to use a yard sign and window stickers from your home security company so criminals know that your property is protected.

Security Alarm Monitoring Services 101: No Landline? No Problem!

by Amy April 8, 2014

 

With cellular technology and smartphones, many of us no longer have a traditional landline telephone in our homes. It’s estimated that nearly 40% of Americans don’t have a landline phone and that number is growing.

Many prospective home security system owners are concerned. They believe that a landline is necessary to monitor a home security system and, because they don’t have one, they’re worried about their protection.

There’s no need to worry.

Home security systems can be monitored using the same cellular signaling technology used for your smartphone. It’s effective and secure and eliminates the need for traditional landlines.

Cellular monitoring services involves placing a cellular module into the alarm system control panel. This module acts as a communicator between the alarm system and the alarm monitoring center. Signals are sent through the data portions of cellular towers, which make sure they arrive quickly and efficiently to the monitoring center.

Cellular alarm monitoring services also makes remote control (through your smartphone, tablet or any web enabled device) faster and easier to use.

Not all home security companies offer cellular alarm monitoring services. We do at My Alarm Center and we’d be happy to answer your questions and protect your home. Call us at 855-334-6562 or send us an email for more information.

How Does an Alarm Monitoring Services Center Work? Take a glimpse inside the operation of a U.L. Certified Central Station

by Amy April 3, 2014

 

The most important part of a wireless home security system is who responds and the time of the response.

After all, what good is a wireless security system if no one is watching it to take action when needed?

The alarm monitoring services center (often called a “Central Station”) is the place where home alarm systems are monitored for burglary, fire, carbon monoxide and other supervisory conditions. These centers should be in highly secure, well-constructed buildings. They are staffed with central station operators who review and respond to alarm system signals and alarm events.

Through the use of software, communications equipment and staff, Central Stations monitor alarm signals and take appropriate action when necessary, including dispatching police and fire as well as private emergency response services.

Not all Central Stations are equal, nor do all provide the same monitoring services or the same quality of service.

Underwriters Laboratories (UL) is a leader in certifying and inspecting Central Station standards and performance capabilities. UL has rigid standards and only a select percentage of Central Stations qualify for their listing. UL conducts annual inspections of listed Central Stations to ensure compliance.

UL certified Central Stations must be able to withstand attack, operate on back-up power sources in the event of power loss and meet a whole variety of other security and operational standards.

You can generally expect higher levels of home security and better service from UL listed Central Stations. That’s because they are required to meet or exceed certain levels of performance. You’ll also find UL certified Central Stations offer more services and their fees run about the same as other quality home alarm monitoring companies (in the interests of full disclosure My Alarm Center, the owner of this blog, monitors its alarm systems at a UL certified Central Station).

Here’s how Central Station alarm monitoring services works.

Your home security alarm system is programmed to communicate with a signal receiver at a Central Station. The information provided includes your information, the type of signal, and in most instances, the zone (s), or device (s) that triggered the signal.

A Central Station operator will view the transmitted signal and take appropriate action. Actions may vary by customer, municipality and emergency condition. For most home burglar alarm systems, the operator will call the premises to verify the alarm before dispatching police (many communities require this to reduce false alarms). Alarm users can cancel alarms by using their personal identification password or number on record with the Central Station. If no one answers the operator’s call, or someone gives incorrect information, emergency authorities are dispatched at once. You can expect the Central Station to react differently to supervisory, fire and personal emergency response system conditions.

Detailed electronic records should be kept by the Central Station concerning all alarm signal transmissions and Central Station response to all signals. There should also be electronic and audio recordings of all Central Station operator interactions with you and/or responding parties, including the authorities.

So what do you need to know about alarm system monitoring services?

You need it. An alarm system is only as good as who responds and how long the response takes.

It makes no difference who installed your home security alarm system. Most alarm systems, regardless of installer or manufacturer, can be monitored by most reputable companies.

Keep your alarm monitoring services with a UL certified Central Station. They offer better performance and higher levels of security, which is why you invested in a home security system in the first place.

Train all home security system users on the proper operation of the system and make sure all know their personal identification codes so they can properly cancel and manage alarm signals with the Central Station.

Moving? Here’s What To Do With Your Home Alarm System.

by Amy April 1, 2014

 

If you have a monitored home security alarm system and are planning to move, this blog post is for you. In it, you’ll learn the exact steps you should take concerning the wireless security system in the home you intend to vacate.

Most home security companies require an agreement to monitor your home alarm system. These agreements have a term and most security companies enforce the term, even if you aren’t using the system or no longer live in the home in which it is installed.

Home security companies enforce their contracts because they often take a loss on the installation of the system, and earn their profit during the term of the monitoring contract.

The last thing you want to do is abandon the home security system without fulfilling the alarm services contract. Most security companies will begin actions to find you and collect their money, and your credit rating may be damaged in the process.

With most home security companies, you have three options for your monitored home alarm system when moving:

·         Take it with you to your new residence and resume monitoring services at the new location. This is the option selected by most people. After all, your new home needs security just like the old one did. Simply take your wireless home security system with you to your new home.

·         Get the people who are moving into your home to assume the contract term for the monitoring services of the system. With this option, you leave the security system with the home for the new homeowners. This option only works for you if the new home occupants sign monitoring contract with the alarm company. If the new home occupants don’t sign a contract for alarm monitoring, in most instances you are still obligated for the contract term with the alarm company.

·         Pay the remaining amount due for the term of the monitoring services contract. If you aren’t taking the system with you to your new home, or the new home occupants won’t assume your responsibility for the monitoring contract, then you’re left with paying the remaining term of the agreement.

The best thing you can do for yourself when you know you are moving from your home is to contact your alarm company. They’ll be happy to review your options and recommend your best course of action.

10 Ways to Prevent False Alarms

by Amy March 20, 2014

 

 

It’s no surprise that most communities fine homeowners for false alarms. It’s estimated that police spend billions of dollars annually responding to false home alarms.

Police departments in some cities won’t even respond to a home alarm unless it has been verified in some way by camera systems, sound or people.

So how can you prevent false alarms from your home security system? Follow these ten tips:

1. Have your home alarm security system designed by a trained security professional. Don’t buy a “one size fits all” home security service package special you see advertised on TV or in the mail. Get quality security equipment applied in the right way to protect you and your home without causing false alarms.

2. Train all system users on the proper use of the home security system. Hold a training session to make sure all users know how to turn the system on and off, and how to cancel an alarm. Make sure each system user knows the contact telephone number of the alarm monitoring center and have them practice cancelling an alarm.

3. Secure all doors and windows before turning on the wireless security system. Many false alarms are caused by doors and windows blowing open.

4. Use home security camera ssystems. Home security camera systems can send an alert to your smartphone when an alarm occurs. Use your smartphone to watch what’s happening in your home to cancel an alarm when needed.

5. Get an annual system inspection and tune up from your home security company. Make sure your home security alarm system equipment is operating properly.

6. Keep the area in front of motion detectors free of clutter, including dust, insects and spider webs.

7. Take care with holiday decorations. Check for drafts that move decorations or plants in motion sensor areas that could trigger false alarms.

8. Contact your home security alarm company if you add a dog or cat to your home to make sure your new friend won’t trigger false alarms.

9. Keep your emergency contact information current with the alarm monitoring center. Your monitoring services center can call the contact list before calling the police if instructed to reduce false alarms.

10. Don’t try to beat the wireless home security system. Too many homeowners turn on the alarm and then remember they forgot something inside the home. Rather than turn the system off before re-entering, they attempt to sneak back in and out during the delay time set on the system. Don’t do this. Turn the alarm off upon entering the home for any reason, and turn it on when needed.

What to do Before Changing Home Security Alarm Companies

by Amy March 18, 2014

 

 

With all the cable TV companies, cellular telephone companies and even Google providing home security systems, the pressure is on homeowners to switch home security companies.

The competition amongst home alarm companies is fierce and many have been accused of deceptive sales practices.

So what can you do to find out if changing home security companies is in your best interests? Follow these tips:

·         Ask yourself why you are considering a switch to another home security company. If it is prompted by a desire for better service or improved protection, then it’s probably wise to consider a change. See our list of seven signs that it’s time to switch home security companies. If the reason you are considering switching is because a salesman showed up at your door promising to save you a few bucks, keep reading.

·         Question what you are told. Many home alarm salespeople make claims about their home security systems that simply aren’t true. You see, most home alarm companies can offer the same protection and home security services.  Don’t believe claims that products are “unique” as most companies sell the same things. The big variables between companies are the quality of the services they provide, the alarm monitoring services and the integrity and professionalism of the people that provide them.

·         Check your obligations with your current home security company. Most home alarm companies have agreements with their customers for the monitoring of the home alarm system. Make sure there are no unfulfilled obligations with your present alarm provider.

·         Investigate the home security companies. Make an informed decision about your security services provider. See our tips for how to select an alarm system monitoring company for an existing home security system.

·         Call your present home security provider. Find out what they can do to keep your business.

·         Don’t sign anything without reading it thoroughly. The internet is full of stories of homeowners that have been duped into signing things without reading, locking them into long agreements terms and in some instances, paying two alarm companies to protect the same home!

It’s best to thoroughly explore all your options before switching home security alarm companies. Any decision you make is only as good as the information you use to make it. Check things out so you make a wise decision.

Alarm Activation Behavior Guide: Your “what to do” guide when your alarm system activates

by Amy March 13, 2014

 

False Alarm Behavior Guide:

·         Call the central station. Contact the monitoring center to tell them about the false alarm.

·         Use your password. Your password is necessary for the monitoring center to cancel the alarm.

·         Determine the cause. Understand what caused the false alarm so it doesn’t happen again.

·         Verify contact information. Make sure the monitoring center has correct information about who to contact on your behalf in the event of emergency.

Real Alarm Behavior Guide:

·          If the alarm is real, get in a secure area. In the event of a fire, vacate the home.

·         Wait for help. Don’t take any actions until emergency response personnel have arrived on scene.

·         Get professional advice. Follow the direction of police and/or fire personnel about your next actions.

·         Contact the monitoring center. Let them know the outcome of the situation.

Post Alarm Behavior Guide:

·         Schedule an inspection with your home alarm service provider. Make sure your system is operating properly.

·         Check the records. Determine how the event was recorded by local authorities to determine if you must pay a false alarm fine.

·         Make an assessment. Did your home security system and home security company perform as expected?

·         Take corrective action. Take the actions necessary to give you the level of security you need and expect if there were any gaps with the security plan and execution.

Why Home Alarm System Owners Should Always Answer Their Telephones

by Amy March 4, 2014

 

Preventing false alarms and capturing burglars may be a challenge in itself, but when homeowners won’t answer their telephones, security experts say there is a whole new set of problems.

In the event of a home alarm activation, most home alarm monitoring companies attempt to verify the alarm to determine if it is a real or false alarm. Depending upon the type of home security system and alarm response purchased by the alarm user, this verification process usually takes place in the form of a telephone call from the alarm monitoring center to the alarm user, or a security guard or police respond to the alarm.

If the homeowner does not answer the phone call from the alarm monitoring company, response is delayed and the home security system system user may face large fines in the event of a false alarm.

So why don’t homeowner’s answer their phones? The problem stems from Caller ID and telemarketers.

The telephone numbers for most alarm monitoring centers aren’t displayed as Caller ID on smartphones and other phones. The primary reason these phone numbers don’t display has to do with personal safety issues for the homeowner. You don’t want an intruder to know the alarm company is calling.

Alarm users mistake this lack of Caller ID on their phones as telemarketers or calls from someone they don’t want to talk to. Thus, they don’t answer the phone call from the alarm company, which sets off a non-productive chain of events.

The problem becomes larger when you consider that most home alarm companies have different telephone numbers for their business office and alarm monitoring center. Many customers know the business office number of the home security company, but have no recollection of the alarm monitoring center telephone number.

Here are some tips for homeowners:

·         Always answer your telephone. You can easily dismiss unwanted calls while being available in emergency situations.

·         Memorize the telephone number of your alarm monitoring center. Many alarm companies monitor home alarm systems via third party providers. Many use different telephone numbers for their business office and their monitoring center. Make sure you know the telephone number of the alarm monitoring center.

·         Know your password. When you interact with the alarm monitoring company, you’ll need your password to identify yourself as authorized for interaction with the monitoring center.

·         Keep your contact information current, especially for people authorized to act on your behalf in your absence.

Not all calls without Caller ID are from telemarketers. Answer your telephone to improve your wireless home security.

What Is Cellular Security Alarm System Monitoring Services?

by Amy February 20, 2014

 

The same technology that you use to make calls on your smartphone can be used to monitor your security cameras and home security alarm system.

Cellular home security system alarm monitoring services uses digital cellular networks to send communication signals from your home security system to an alarm monitoring center.  The home security system simply has a digital cellular communicator wired to it, and signals are sent via cellular networks.

Here are some of the major benefits of cellular home alarm system monitoring services:

·         It fits today’s lifestyle. Cellular alarm monitoring eliminates the need for phone lines. With one out of four homes in America without a landline, cellular alarm monitoring is the right communication method for today’s times, and in the future.

·         It’s more secure than landlines. Since there is no alarm communication line for a burglar to cut or disable, cellular is more secure. It’s also much less susceptible to outages caused by storms, inclement weather or errant drivers. Cellular is one of the most reliable ways to monitor a home security system.

·         It offers you more flexibility as a user. You can add it to existing hard-wired or wireless home alarm systems. It’s easier to take with you should you move. Enjoy money and energy savings with home automation controlled through the cellular network.

·         It’s cost effective. Cellular alarm monitoring provides the protection you need at a price you can afford. It’s a practical way to get higher levels of wireless home security without breaking your budget.

Here’s a link to an excellent page with more information about cellular alarm monitoring services.

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