occasional security system false alarm may seem like a
minor homeowner hassle, but itís actually a nationwide
problem you can help solve.
researching this topic recently, our team found that
more than 90 percent of alarm activations that trigger a
police response are false alarms activated by user
error, pet movement, poorly maintained equipment or
other causes that donít involve criminal activity or
that crying wolf wastes about $2 billion in police
resources, our team learned, and lengthens the time it
takes officials to respond to actual crises. And it can
cost you, if you own one of the estimated 36 million
home systems in the country. More than 3,000 U.S.
municipalities charge false-alarm fines. First offenses
are often forgiven or fined $25 to $35, but multiple
instances may cost hundreds of dollars or more.
key to reducing fines and wasted emergency response time
is in your hands. Common mistakes include inputting
incorrect codes, not alerting the security monitoring
company to new contact information, and not knowing the
correct passwords when the company calls about an alarm.
user error rate tends to be highest in the first hours
and days after system installation. Be aware that as a
result, some company contracts specify a grace period
during which they wonít call police if the alarm is
pros offer these tips for reducing the chance of a false
everyone with access to your home on how to disarm the
system, how to contact the monitoring company, and which
code words are needed to cancel an alarm by phone.
your system monthly. Check backup batteries annually.
motion detectors clear of debris, such as spider webs
and bugs. Make sure air drafts donít move curtains,
plants or decorations. Check that protected doors and
windows close correctly.
the alarm company when youíre out of town, change your
contact information, have a remodeling project or a new
pet (new systems factor in pets according to size).
equipment in good repair and consider upgrading.
Recently developed technology helps reduce the chances
of false alarms by making them easier to use. Examples:
disarming a system via text message, monitoring it by
video or interacting with it via wireless key fob. Such
features can cost from $500 to $2,000 for equipment and
youíre installing a new home alarm system, determine
your financial responsibilities regarding false alarms.
Also, be sure to work with a reputable, reliable
company. Only consider those that are appropriately
licensed and registered with proper local or state
authorities. Check their online reputation and take time
to contact references. Donít neglect to read your
contract carefully before signing.